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How teams work
How teams work

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1.5 Summary of Section 1

This section has dealt with four specific types of team: project teams, operational teams, self-managed teams and communities of practice. It was acknowledged that, in practice, real teams tend to cross the boundaries between these types of team.

A project team consists of a group of people who come together as a distinct organisational unit in order to work on one or more projects. The team is often led by a project manager, although project teams may also be self-managed. There are several commonly accepted types of project team: the functional team, the project team, the matrix team and the contract team. A functional team is a team in which work is carried out within a functionally organised group where people working together carry out the same or similar functions. A project team consists of a group of people who all belong to the same organisation but work as a separate unit on one or more projects. In a matrix team, individual staff report to different managers for different aspects of their work. Staff are responsible to the project manager for their work on the project while their functional line manager is responsible for other aspects of their work. A contract team is typically brought in from outside an organisation in order to perform the project work.

The strengths and weaknesses of the different categories of project teams were discussed.

An operational team is formed to undertake some ongoing activities that are required for the provision of goods or services.

A self-managed team is a team in which the members take collective responsibility for ensuring that the team operates effectively and meets its targets. The benefits of a self-managed team include cost savings, innovation, effective decision making, increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction, commitment, motivation and increased compatibility between employers and employees. However, there are potential problems: they can be difficult to set up, particularly if there is not a culture of using self-managed teams in an organisation, and there is the perennial problem of individuals not contributing fully (meeting their responsibilities).

A community of practice is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. To be a community of practice, the group must consist of practitioners in a domain who engage in joint activities and discussions to help each other and share information.