Increased global competition, changing work realities, mergers and acquisitions and decline in middle management besides benefits of teams in leveraging organizational strengths and offsetting new challenges has resulted to the rise in prominence of teams in organizations (Gordon, 2002).
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However, while use of teams is ever becoming more common, the success of teams in any organization is not guaranteed. Recent literature on the effectiveness of teams has resulted to myriad of strategies that firms may adopt in ensuring that teams are successful (Mealia et al, 2005).
While some of the strategies have proven to be effective in enhancing the success of teams, others have been wrought with challenges that have rendered teams less effective.
One current strategy that is effective in corporate team building is deciding on the type of team design to adopt in an organization. The choice of team designs range from self-directed teams, problem-solving teams, cross-functional teams and virtual teams (Bass, 2007).
Use of different team designs is influenced by literature on behavioral science, which suggests that successful team building is dependent on various desirable characteristics which can be built in the work environment (Mealia et al, 2005).
The mix of factors depends on the type of team, organizations characteristics, nature of power relations, number of team members, and the type of organization among other factors. The type of design that firms adopt impact on the effectiveness of the teams and thus team building must take into consideration these factors.
Problem-solving teams are important in solving various problems that organizations face. Problem solving teams often consist of a few individuals who are crucial in decision making in various spheres of the organization.
The effectiveness of problem-solving teams stems from the opportunity for sharing ideas, and offering suggestions thus resulting to better output of solutions. Problem-solving teams may use such strategies as quality circles.
Self-management team strategy on the other hand is a team building strategy that involves teams that perform related and interdependent tasks. Self-management teams often take the responsibilities that were being handled by supervisors.
The advantage of self-management team building strategy includes reduced middle level management and supervisors and consequently enhancing savings by the organization. The disadvantage attributed to this team strategy includes lack of involvement of some of the team members in work-related processes and decisions (Bass, 2007).
The evident failures of self-managed teams have contributed to growth of fully self-managed teams. These teams plan for work, assign roles to each member, select members and besides evaluating how each person in the team performs (Bass, 2007).
This model has been mores successful in improving productivity and quality in manufacturing companies.
Despite the success of self-managed teams, various studies have indicated that self-managed teams are not effective during downsizing and may also not be effective in certain cultures that have strong respect for hierarchical authority and high tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty as evidenced in the failure of self-managed teams in Mexico (Bass 2007).
Another team building strategy is use of cross-functional design in team building. Cross-functional teams aim at enhancing the firm’s ability to meet clients changing needs by ensuring that all clients’ issues are handled within one team instead of being handled by different departments.
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Such teams may be composed of persons within the same work positions but from diverse work areas (Bass 2007).
The advantage of such teams is evident speed in actualization of projects. Major challenges include building trust amongst the team members especially early in the formation of the team and difficulties in working in diverse and complex settings from their normal areas of specialization (Bass 2007).
Virtual teams is also another strategy in team building, which uses virtual world of technology to bring together dispersed members in order to achieve various goals (Gordon, 2002).
Virtual teams are marked by limited social contact, absence of verbal and non-verbal cues, and constraints of space and time. This results to less interaction, less social rapport, and are marked by decreased group satisfaction compared to face-to-face teams (Bass 2007).
However, it has the advantage of allowing people who may not have ordinarily worked together to come together and work together.
Bass, J. (2007). Team Building: Strategies for improving team performance. San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons.
Gordon, J. (2002). Team building. Journal of American Academy of Business, 2(1), 185-189.
Mealiea, L., Laird, N., Baltazar, R., & Ramon, L. (2005). A strategic guide for building effective teams. Public Personnel Management, 34 (2), 215-224.