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Work Groups and Teams

Updated on June 4, 2017

A company can comprise of many different types of work groups and teams amongst its employee workforce. A company can have workgroups of 2 or more of its employees working together to primarily share information and make decisions to assist group members in their job responsibility. Along with work groups, a company also has work teams in its employee workforce. The company’s work groups have coordinated efforts to create positive synergy to accomplish the company’s mission or vision statement. As a company, work groups and teams forms to just create informational documents, generate ideas, create company standards, resolve issues, pool resources, coordinate logistics, and operate research for projects and operations. There are many different types of teams that leadership can construct to complete in any of project or goal for the company. Those various kinds of groups ranging from problem-solving teams, self-managed work teams, cross-functional teams, virtual teams, and multi-team systems.

A Problem-Solving Team (PST) is a group of at least 5-12 hourly employees that work to create solutions for improving the company’s real-time problems in areas of quality, efficiency, and employee workplace environment. A PST can solve real-time problems with (1) a detailed analysis of strategy and specific goals, (2) a 4-phase comprehensive problem-solving methodology, (3) a selection and analysis of problems at current projects, (4) guidance and feedback, (5) action points for strategy, processes, client relations, and teamwork, (6) follow-up on project decisions, (7) an evaluation progress on making improvements, and (8) process-sharing from receivers of the team’s work. Company leadership should only use a PST just for a limited time-frame, or on an intermittent basis. A PST can benefit the company because team members can instantly apply skills; therefore, improving teamwork among employees. PST solve existing problems, hence its name, and use best practices from the feedback of their methods from the receivers of their products.

A Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) is a group of at least 10-15 employees that substitutes the responsibilities of the company’s supervisors such as planning and scheduling, assigning tasks to other employees, customer service work with suppliers and clients, and making decisions, plus acting, on problems and operating decisions. Unfortunately, SMWTs can diminish a company’s supervisory positions and decrease their effectiveness. Even though SMWTs have the power to reduce, they have become very popular in the business industry with “…around 80 percent of companies in the Fortune 1000 and 81 percent of manufacturing companies use self-managed teams within their organizational structure.” (MacDonald, 2016) These Fortune 1000 companies are finding SMWTs to increase the productivity of employees and reduce cost, but they are not a good fit for every company. Company leadership should closely consider the benefits, and make sure they outweigh the cost of establishing an SMWT. An SMWT might be a good fit as long as company leadership develops the company culture to support employee decision-making.

A Cross-Functional Team (CFT) are employees from different departments that come together to work on important projects. A company should use CFTs to promote exchanging information, developing new ideas, solving problems, and coordinating individual assignments. CFTs have known help improve coordination and integration within the company, span organizational boundaries, and reduce the production time in new product, or service, developments. Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance company developed the use of CFTs in the 1950s to study the impact that computers would have on the business industry in that time; with employees from the company’s financial, investment, actuarial, and other departments. Company leadership must make sure CFT members have an open mind, stay highly-motivated, and have the authority and accountability to accomplish the projects. CFTs have long early stages of development and take much time to build trust; along with the necessary teamwork to make the team successful. CFTs can improve problem-solving because they are more thorough on decision making. CFTs can produce great results, but they have competing loyalties and obligations for their divisions. Leadership must provide adequate resources and support for an established CFT to become successful.

A Virtual Team (VT) are employees that form a group via the Internet, teleconferencing, Skype, and other types of multi-communication technology platforms. VT team members work within the team using mainly computer-access across time, space, and company boundaries with communication technology and the Internet. VTs are separated more into several different types of VTs. VTs can become a remote VT where the team members have challenges of meeting face-to-face because the distance between them is too great. Matrix VTs are from different divisions; therefore, each team member reports to their bosses. Virtual reporting VTs work on several teams at one time; using their time appropriately, with the leader of the group has formed a relationship with each department within the company. There are many issues with using the computer as the primary communication between VT team members, so the interface must remain constant and stay frequent to have success with this type of team. When it comes to using VTs, leadership should understand that “…evidence from 94 studies entailing more than 5,0000 groups found that virtual teams are better at sharing unique information (information held by individual members but not the entire group), but they tend to share less information overall.” (Robbins & Judge, 2016) Leadership must understand this fact when using a VT within the company. If leadership decides to structure VTs within the enterprise, they must immediately establish trust with the VT members, closely monitor the VT members, and publicize the VT team members work efforts and products. VTs have extreme volatility amongst the team members because they have a less social rapport with each other due to them operating across different time zones; and possible cultures. VT team members free interpersonal or persuasive edge that team members gain from group interaction. VT can become successful if leadership must give a VT defined the direction and removed all ambiguity from the team. Leadership must operate the VT through influence with a highly defined process that delivers precise results. These actions will counteract the negative qualities of team members needing reliability for the VT to become successful. Strong leadership efforts also subside the VT team members having to endure different goals, corporate cultures, and commercial arrangements while still operating within the VT.

A Multi-Team Systems (MTS) forms from divisions that have interdependency and have the same superordinate goal for the company. MTSs do not operate like traditional teams, so leadership needs an excellent understanding of how to manage this type of team within the enterprise. MTSs boundaries are developed based on the shared interdependency of all team members toward the accomplishment of a higher network-level goal. MSTs are a mixed team for the leadership to consider using with the company for any tasks, assignments, or projects.

Leadership has different types of teams to develop to choose from that will help achieve its mission or vision statement. Work groups and teams already exist within the company culture because they produce automatically because of the structure of the business and the organizational behavior of employees. Business leadership can develop special teams as the PST, SMWT, CFT, VT, or MTS type teams. These teams have great benefits, but they also come with some negative attributes the company leadership should consider before implementing them within the enterprise.


Campanile Consulting (2010). Problem-Solving Teams (PST). Campanile Management Consulting. Available at

Colorado Technical University (CTU) (2015). Organizational Behavior. Pearson. Retrieved from Colorado Technical University Virtual Campus,MGMT604-1601B-01:

Global Integration (2013). Training for Virtual Teams. Available at

MacDonald, L. (2016). What Is a Self-Managed Team? Houston Chronicle. Hearst Newspapers,LLC. Available at

Meyer, E. (2010). The Four Keys To Success With Virtual Teams. Forbes. Available at

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