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Designing Effective Teams
Managers often are charged with designing or bringing together a group of individuals to carry out a specific function. This is generally how formal groups begin. The manager must then do what is necessary to make certain the group reaches the ability to function as a team. This involves many different considerations about the group and the individuals making it up. This is known as team design.
Designing a team entails the following considerations:
- Type of Task – The type of task carried on by the team will affect all other aspects of bringing a team together. Team tasks might include any number of operational or planning functions. Related tasks might include ideation, planning activities (such as strategy or budgeting), or operational tasks.
- Team composition – What skills, experience, background, and personalities are necessary for the team? Individuals must be qualified and compete to fill their roles. This generally requires a combination of knowledge, skill, and ability. I also require compatible personality types, as conflicting personalities often result in disfunction. It may also be beneficial to have diverse team members who bring unique perspectives to the table. You certainly want team members who bring complementary (rather than duplicative) skills and abilities to the team.
- Team size – What is the optimal number of team members? Most teams are less than 20 members, with the majority being in the 3-7 member range. Larger teams bring a broader array of skills, abilities, and perspectives; but, they can be very difficult to coordinate and manage. Also, it tends to sacrifice cohesion among the members. Smaller teams build cohesion more easily, are more flexible in dealing with changes, and are better able to overcome differences. One option is to have the main team with one or more sub-teams. This is an effective way of keeping the small-team characteristics while having a large, diverse membership.