Applications & Issues in Designing Work Teams

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  • 0:03 What Is a Work Team?
  • 1:35 Designing a Work Team
  • 3:45 Managing a Work Team
  • 5:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Loy

Dr. Loy has a Ph.D. in Resource Economics; master's degrees in economics, human resources, and safety; and has taught masters and doctorate level courses in statistics, research methods, economics, and management.

Designing and managing a work team brings about quality decisions, products, and services. You need a mission plus team members with expertise, commitment, and trust. It's also important to establish a plan, accountability, and conflict resolution.

What Is a Work Team?

When taking a class in school, did you ever dread when your teacher would split you into groups to work on a project? Most of us have had that feeling, and yet some of our greatest accomplishments in life come from being part of a team.

In this lesson, we look at work teams. A work team is a group of employees who come together to accomplish a goal. Most employees are part of a work team at one time or another.

When we think of work teams, we might envision several people sitting around a table, brainstorming. It's important to note that work team members no longer have to be in the same place. They can be remote, where teams communicate through video conferencing, email, internet, telephone, and social networks. The key to being a successful work team is not where the members are located, but how they communicate with each other to reach their goals.

Work teams can be designed for a short-term purpose, such putting together a marketing video or a training. Or a team can be indefinite, such as one dedicated to management, recruiting, or information technology. A team might also be based on a specific purpose, such as promoting disability issues or charity projects.

Work teams are often comprised of diverse personalities who complement each other's strengths and weaknesses. Every team is different, but the road to designing a work team remains the same. You look for more than just expertise. You want people who can contribute to a joint mission. In this lesson we will look at the design and management of the C+Team, which is tasked with the goal of building a new information system for a large nonprofit.

Designing a Work Team

Designing a work team starts with a common mission. In other words, the members are charged with a goal. In C+Team's case, it was to design an information system. By putting together team members who exhibit expertise, commitment, and trust, the organization can avoid problems with cohesion and look forward to a well-designed information system when the team is finished.

Let's look at the C+Team as an example of how to design a work team. C+Team was created from leaders and managers in the organization. The work team includes people with different expertise who each brought specific knowledge of the organization to the team. C+Team had a technologist, an accessibility expert, a personnel director, a financial director, and an employee relation specialist.

C+Team's technologist was on the team to make sure all of the hardware and software needs were met. The accessibility specialist ensured that the system worked with other technologies in the office. The personnel director provided information on employees, while the financial director tracked the funds. And the employee relation specialist was tasked with making sure employees' needs were met during the design phase of the project.

Each team member was respected among the ranks in the organization. Their contributions were well-known, and they were long-term employees who had exhibited a commitment to the organization. This dedication had been exhibited by their willingness to serve the organization's stakeholders, which were veterans.

Members of the team were familiar with each other and had built trusting relationships working together successfully on different projects. These included the design of a telephone system, training platform, and website. Trust in this case was built from completing work on time, managing conflict, and understanding each other's roles. The team's contributions to the organization were made by going above and beyond their daily duties. With this trust established, communication among them and their departments thrived.

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