Types of Organizational Teams

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There are as many as six types of organizational team.
There are as many as six types of organizational team. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A team is a group of people assembled to accomplish a common purpose. Corporations use organizational teams for purposes such as eliminating bottlenecks in product development, reducing production delays and improving the structural cooperation across countries and continents. There are as many as six types of organizational team, ranging from informal, traditional, and problem-solving teams to leadership teams, self-directed and virtual teams.

Multifunctional and Special-Purpose

Establishing an organizational team can replace the traditional hierarchical organizational structure. Richard Lewis, Jr., Ph.D., of Roundtop Consulting, cites two general team types: multifunctional and special purpose. The multifunctional team is comprised of people who, though they may work in different areas of the company, share similar functions and skill sets that can be used to address on-going issues across the organization. The second type is the special-purpose team, which is brought together to solve a specific challenge and disbands after the issue is resolved.

Informal and Traditional

Of the six types of teams identified by Reference for Business.com, informal and traditional teams represent opposite ends of the team spectrum. Informal teams represent social subgroups within a company and team leaders may not necessarily be those actually appointed by the company. Instead, this team often fills an underground role, perhaps as a president's "eyes and ears," those who know what employees really think. Or it may represent an early adapter group to speed implementation of new processes. In contrast, a traditional team is usually composed of a department or functional area and the supervisors and managers are appointed by the organization.

Problem-solving Teams and Leadership Teams

The problem-solving team shares many characteristics with the broadly defined “special-purpose" team. It tends to be short-term and goal-specific, and is often composed of cross-functional team members. It is usually focused on a specific project and often is under time constraints to trouble-shoot an issue and recommend a course of action.

Leadership teams, on the other hand are often ongoing steering committees or advisory councils with appointed leadership. They often represent a cross-section of functional departments, working to develop a unifying strategy, implement a solution to a problem or meet specific financial goals.

Self-Directed and Virtual

Changes in how companies work in the 21st century have given rise to two recent types of team: the self-directed and virtual teams. Given a goal, the self-directed team has the freedom and autonomy to decide its own course of action to accomplish it. While team members may have specific roles, there is often no clear team leader and, in fact, the team may choose its own members. The virtual team has developed because technology now allows people anywhere in the world to work together. Teams tend to be geographically dispersed and team members must be accountable for their team tasks with minimal supervision.

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