Working in diverse teams
Working in diverse teams

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Working in diverse teams

6 Different types of team

In the workplace it is likely that you will encounter many different types of teams and in this section you are going to have a look at the main differences you may encounter.

A team has a specific, well-defined purpose or goal. A project team is one which is formed to achieve the goal of a specific project. In a project team, people are assigned roles and responsibilities. Project teams are often put together to achieve a goal that is too large or complex for one person, or that would take one person too long to complete in the time that is available. Therefore the team has to manage this by breaking down the overall goal into smaller tasks and distributing these tasks amongst the members of the team.

When you think of teams at work it is often the project team that you think about, but there are other kinds of team.

Cohen and Bailey (1997) describe four types of team.

  1. Project teams – come together for a short time to get a specific project completed. This type of team has a finite life and may be cross-functional as people in one workplace may move from project to project or be involved in more than one project team at any one time.
  2. Work teams – for example in the service sector. This kind of team is in reality more like the working group that was mentioned in Section 4.2.
  3. Parallel teams – brought together for a specific task such as quality control and operate outside the usual organisation or management structure. For instance, an organisation like a university can hire a parallel team to create better advertising and marketing campaigns, which lets them focus on educating students. Parallel teams can be very beneficial because they usually happen outside the organisation.
  4. Management teams – made up of top-level executives in the company. They are responsible for overall performance.

Now read the following case study before completing Activity 7.

Case study 1: John

John works full-time in a small independent bookshop ‘The Word on the Street’ in Wigan. There are eight people who work in the shop, most of them full-time but two members of the team work part-time as a job-share.

John is responsible for the children’s section of the bookshop along with Sue. He has a particular interest in books for boys and reluctant readers since he has two sons, one with autism and the other with slight dyslexia. Sue has a degree in creative writing and has published her own book of children’s poetry. Most of their week is spent organising the children’s section, ordering in books and dealing with customer queries which can be in person, by phone or increasingly over the internet by email.

On Thursday mornings, John meets with two other colleagues, Josh and Viv, who work in different sections of the shop. Together they have responsibility for the social media profile of the shop which includes updating the website, running an online book club and managing the Facebook and Twitter accounts. Viv has a degree in IT and Josh used to work as a web designer. As this part of the business is growing, it is starting to take up much more of their time and they are considering increasing the time spent on this part of the work to two mornings a week.

While most of his week is spent in the shop, John really enjoys his Friday afternoons when he gets a chance to go to a meeting which is held in the town hall. This is a meeting of the ‘Books for You’ group and is made up of five people including John. The other members are Rajesh from a larger bookshop in town, Amanda from the library service, Devlin who works for an organisation called Arch involved in supporting children’s reading in schools and Pat who volunteers at the local children’s centre. They have been working together for three weeks now and are planning an event for the October half-term which will take place in venues across the town and promote reading activities for children focused around the theme of a spooky Halloween.

Activity 7 Identify the team

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

John is involved in at least four different teams as part of his work. Can you identify each team, the team members and the kind of team in each case? Type your answers into the table below.

Table 1 John’s teams

TeamNumber of people involvedSkills/interests of team members (if known)Function/aimType of team
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Answer

You may have come up with something like the following.

Table 1 (completed) John’s teams

TeamNumber of people involvedSkills/interests of team members (if known)Function/aimType of team
Bookshop teamEight people including 2 who job-share

John – children’s books

Sue – author of children’s book.

Others not known

To sell books Work team
Children’s section teamTwo people – John and Sue

John – reluctant readers and books for boys

Sue – children’s literature (author)

Organise the children’s sectionWork team
Social Media teamThree people – Josh, Viv and John

Viv – degree in IT

Josh – experience as web designer

Social media and online profile of the shopParallel team
‘Books for You’ teamFive people – John, Amanda, Rajesh, Devlin and PatChildren’s book sales; library services; reading support for children; children’s centreEvents in Wigan to promote children’s involvement with books and the written wordProject team

In the example of John, you can see that he works in a number of teams at the same time. His involvement in some of those teams may be temporary. Some of the teams are made up of co-workers within his organisation (the bookshop), while the project team is made up of people from different organisations in Wigan with a shared interest in encouraging children to read. At this time it is expected that this group will disband after the event in October, but may continue if they decide to organise another event. If this happens, the make-up of the group could change.

Next you will look at ways to enhance your experience of working in a team.

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