Teams and How They Function What is a team? A team is defined as a a group of people who depend upon each other for information, resources, and skills and who seek to combine their efforts to achieve a common goal (Thompson, 2008). It is “two or more interdependent individuals who interact with and influence one another in order to accomplish a common purpose” (Zayed & Kamel, 2005, p.1)…
Secondly, team members are interdependent which signifies their reliance on each other, which is the hallmark of teamwork (Thompson, 2008, p. 2). Thirdly, team members are bounded to each other and are relatively stable over a period of time. By boundedness is meant a finite and identifiable membership the composition of which is known to all members as well as outsiders; by stability is meant that there is tenure of membership. Fourthly, team members are empowered to manage their own work and exercise their discretion over the internal processes. They do not need constant permission or approval from the team leader or manager. Finally, teams operate within the context of a larger social system. Teams work alongside other teams and draw upon resources outside their team, from the larger social system (Thompson, 2008, p 3). Team characteristics may be summarized as follows (Zayed & Kamel, 2005, p.2): A team can involve as few as two people. A team is not a mere aggregate of individuals. More than that, it is an integrated unit that functions in a coordinated and complementary manner. A team’s success depends on the interdependent and collective efforts of various team members, not just a few individuals; each member makes a significant contribution to the team effort. Team members are likely to have significant impacts on one another as they work together. When tasks require multiple skills, experience and sound judgment, teams usually outperform the sum total of the work of separate individuals. Teams are found to be more flexible and responsive to changes in the environment and other unexpected events, compared to traditional organizational hierarchical structures or other forms of permanent groupings (Zayed & Kamel, 2005, p.1; Thompson, 2008, p. 6). Factors that make a team work Zayed & Kamel (2005, p.3) specify four requirements for teams to function well: (1) Team members must have an interdependent relationship with each other in the performance of their team activities. (2) This interdependence dictates that group members must interact through conversation or work activities. (3) A team is characterized by a condition of mutual influence between team members. (4) Teams have a common purpose such as accomplishing work, completing a project, or preparing a report. Aside from internal factors possessed by the effective team, there are external factors that have made the development of the self-managed team not only apropos but necessary. The first of these is the degree of specialization required in addressing an increasingly globalized environment. The globalization of the economy enables more organizations to form and, with the increasing complexity of productive activity, assume more specialized functions. This gives rise to a need for specialists in many fields, experts with indepth knowledge and training who are particularly equipped to assess and render competent decisions within their fields of expertise, more than a general manager or team leader (Dyer & Dyer, 2010). The second factor is competition, where the global market is increasingly dominated by a few large firms who enjoy economies of scale and large profits. For these firms, teamwork is becomes a source of competitive advantage in coordinating the activities of the ...
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