HOW TO MATCH A TEAM TO TASK

HOW TO MATCH A TEAM TO TASK

There are numerous types of team, formal and informal, each suited to fulfilling particular tasks. Team leaders need to understand the objectives and goals of their team clearly in order to match tasks to the most appropriate style of team. 

Formal Teams

Formal teams are fundamental to an organization – whether internal audit units or counter-staff in a supermarket. They are often permanent, carry out repetitive work, and have a defined remit:

  • Cross-functional executive teams exist at director level to pool high levels of expertise;
  • Cross-functional teams at all levels pool their knowledge to solve problems and run projects;
  • Business teams at all levels of an organization place people with similar expertise in long-term teams to oversee specific projects; 
  • Formal support teams provide internal expert administration back-up in their own fields.

Informal Teams

Casual groupings of people come together to work on an informal basis throughout all organizations. Informal teams can be formed on an ad hoc basis to deal with many needs. 

  • Temporary project teams stay together for the duration of a specific project.
  • Change teams discuss strategy or trouble-shoot when a particular, one-off problem occurs;
  • “Hot groups” brainstorm creative projects while retaining autonomy and spontaneity;
  • Temporary taskforces deal informally with specific short-term tasks and issues.

Comparing Formal and Informal Teams

The more formal the team, the more disciplined the leadership tends to be: company rules and procedures have to be followed, reports made, progress noted, and results obtained on a regular basis.  By the same token, informal teams follow informal procedure. Ideas and solutions to problems can be generated on a more casual basis and procedures are less stringent.  However, it is important to remember that team leadership always has to be goal-oriented, whether in a formal or informal team. For example, the temporary, casual nature of a “hot group” brainstorming a project should not be an excuse to do away with team discipline altogether.

Choosing Team Members

One of the secrets of successful team leadership is matching the skills of team members carefully to the type of task they are required to perform. For example, if a product launch requires the generation of new ideas, a team should be cross-functional, comprising people from different disciplines who can apply their varied expertise and creativity to study a project from several different angles.  If, however, a task requires specialist knowledge of accounting procedures, it makes sense to recruit specifically among the leading minds of a financial division. As the demands of a project change, it may be necessary to introduce different talents into a team and replace members whose roles are no longer relevant. 

Building on Friendships Within a Team

It is important to generate an easy, friendly atmosphere in a formal team meeting, even though the imposition of official procedures contrasts with the casual, occasionally even disorderly tone of an unofficial or informal team meeting. Try to create an atmosphere in which all ideas get a respectful hearing and conversation is open. This is easier if team members can relate to each other as people rather than simply as colleagues, so encourage members of both formal and informal teams to spend time together outside their official meetings. Arrange social events and celebrate a team’s successes to help maintain a friendly atmosphere. Encourage people to spend time together out of work hours – genuine friendships between individuals have a unifying effect on a team as a whole.

MATCHING TYPES OF TEAM TO CERTAIN TASKS

TYPES OF TEAM TASKS AND CHARACTERISTICS
EXECUTIVE TEAM

A cross-functional group headed by chief-executive. Members chosen by role, for example. Finance director

  • Manages organization or divisional operation on day-to-day basis. Meets regularly, with agenda and minutes.
  • Depends on information from lower levels. If badly controlled, can be forum for personality battles.
CROSS-FUNCTIONAL TEAM

A multi-disciplinary, inter-departmental team, found at any level in an organization.

  • Removes obstacles to exchange of ideas in a variety of specific tasks – for example, a new product launch.
  • Team members bring their different areas of expertise and skill to a problem or task.
BUSINESS TEAM

A group of people in charge of the long-term running of a project or unit within their organization.

  • Runs a unit and organizes results.
  • Depends on the leader, who may change too often for the group to settle into optimal team-working. Usually subject to fairly close supervision.
FORMAL SUPPORT TEAM

A team providing support and services, such as finance, information systems, administration, and staffing.

  • Carries heavy load of routine work, such as the postal system, whose efficiency is indispensable for success.
  • Depends on processes, offering scope for raising productivity by teamwork. Tends to be clannish.
PROJECT TEAM

A team selected  and kept together  for the duration of a project , such as  the construction  of a new facility

  • Requires a large number of sub-groups, sub-tasks, and detailed planning, plus tight discipline. 
  • Depends on close understanding among members and well-organized work practices.
CHANGE TEAM

A group of experts briefed to achieve change. Value depends on collective ability. Sometimes starts off-campus.

  • Influences corporate cultures to achieve radical improvement in results by applying new methods. 
  • Led by believers in change, with a high level of dedication to their organization.
HOT GROUP

An autonomous body set apart from the rest of an organization, often in a remote site.

  • Concentrates on tasks such as moving into new markets or creating new product programs.
  • Flexible, independent, and high-achieving groups of people who question assumptions and get fast results.
TEMPORARY TASKFORCE

A short-term body set up to study or solves specific problem or issue and report back to management.

  • Establishes new IT systems, removes production bottlenecks, or involve itself it similar tasks, usually working under intense pressures.
  • Uses informal processes and generates alternatives.

 

POINTS TO REMEMBER

  • A team member is still an individual, and should always be treated as such.
  • Cross-functional teams offer people the chance to learn about the role and work of other.
  • Inter-departmental teams break down costly barriers.
  • Formal teams sometimes need informal elements to stimulate and refresh their work.
  • Teams cease to be teams if one member becomes dormant.
  • All team members should make sure that they are working towards the same goal.

 

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