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Work Teams: Three Models Of Effectiveness

3630 words - 15 pages

AbstractWhat is a team? What are the advantages and disadvantages of having teamsin organizations? What does it take to make a team effective? This paperexamines the theme of effectiveness in teams. A work group is defined as agroup of individuals who are seen by themselves and others as a socialentity, which is interdependent because of the tasks performed as membersof a group. First, the paper briefly examines the advantages and potentialpitfalls of having teams in an organization. Then, three models of workgroup effectiveness are presented. These models are from Campion, Guzzo andHackman. Implications of these models for teams are discussed, and then themodels are synthesized into a checklist of characteristics needed foreffective teams.Work Teams:Three Models of EffectivenessGroups became a new focus of attention in the 1940's after the Hawthornestudies were published (Roethlisberger & Dickson, 1939). One of thediscoveries outlined in that report is that informal work groups are formedby workers inside of classic Theory X organizations. In recent years theuse of work teams in organizations has been increasing substantially, andthis trend is expected to continue (Katzenbach, 1998). Eighty percent oforganizations with over 100 employees report 50% of their employees are inat least one team (Beyerlein & Harris, 1998). To remain competitive, it isimportant for organizations to create and maintain teams which are aseffective as possible.A work team will be defined for the purposes of this paper by a definitionborrowed from Guzzo (1986) as follows. A team is a group of individuals whosee themselves and are seen by others as a social entity, which isinterdependent because of the tasks performed as members of a group. Theyare embedded in one or more larger social systems, performing tasks thataffect others. The key to work teams is that they are interdependent, andthis is the major factor that distinguishes a "team" from a "group,"although both terms will be used in this paper.There are many advantages to having self-managed work teams inorganizations. Teams can enable a company to execute more quickly, andchanges are made more easily, allowing the company flexibility (Mohrman,Cohen & Mohrman, 1995). This is due in part to increased communication andemployee involvement in decision-making. Information flow is better becauseof increased communication and horizontal, rather than just vertical flowof information. Because of this, consistency in organizational environment,strategy and design is increased (West, Borril & Unsworth, 1998).Each member of a group adds more information, perspective, experience andcompetencies (Gmelch, 1984). Organizations as a whole are able to learnmore effectively as well as retain gained knowledge. If each memberparticipates in problem solving, the potential ways a problem can be solvedis increased. Employees also feel better about decisions they makethemselves, and are more likely to stick to the...

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