Everything You Need to Know About Work Teams

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 5, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Professionals are likely to encounter group projects and teamwork in their job, eventually. Companies may implement work groups to make the workplace feel like a community, help with managing stressful workloads, or provide individuals with more opportunities to share ideas. Learning more about this topic can help you become an active and valuable member of any team at work. In this article, we discover what work teams are, discuss their importance, look at different types of teams, explore four stages of developing a team, and review some tips on facilitating teamwork in a company.

What are work teams?

Work teams refer to a group of people who work together to achieve a common goal. These goals can vary, depending on the focus of the workplace or the short- and long-term goals of the projects that are available. Members of a team may benefit from factors such as strong leadership, open communication, clear role expectations, and early conflict resolution. The purpose of work groups is usually to provide more value to the company, which can include competitive advantages and the innovation of new products and services.

Related: Eight Steps for Managing Teams Effectively (With Tips)

Why is this type of employee system important?

Working with teams is important because it can help the completion of a project seem more manageable. Activities are likely to feel more attainable with an entire team focusing on its completion, and it may also enhance performance and productivity within the company. Here are a few reasons implementing work groups can benefit a workplace:

  • Creates a sense of community: Becoming a part of a team may connect you to other people in your workplace and help you feel as if you belong there. Supportive and cooperative team members who listen to and implement one another's ideas are more likely to achieve their team goals.

  • Encourages an ability to accomplish more tasks or handle bigger workloads: Team members can eliminate the stress of a large or complex project by dividing the work between themselves. Everybody has unique skills and strengths they can use to complete a project more efficiently, benefiting the entire team.

  • Improves innovative thinking: When people come together to collaborate as part of a team, it may lead to more innovation in the workplace. Everybody can propose unique ideas and offer different perspectives, which may lead to better brainstorming and more highly developed plans to complete projects.

  • Improves productivity: Teamwork is a workplace strategy that may improve productivity and efficiency because multiple individuals are working together to accomplish a common goal, as opposed to one individual working alone.

Related: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

Different types of workplace teams

Workplace teams can comprise individuals who work in the same workplace or remotely from different locations. Here are four common types of teams that companies might have:

Self-managing

A self-managing team usually comprises individuals who are independent and reliable. They don't require frequent check-in meetings with management, aside from the occasional progress report. There usually isn't a leader guiding the other members because everybody can manage their own workloads and deadlines responsibly.

Functional department

This type of team includes employees who are all from the same department. They may interact regularly because they often work in the same environment and see one another daily. It's common for functional department teams to have long-term projects and goals because of their similar work-related backgrounds and skills. An example of a functional department team that companies might have is a marketing team, who works together to represent their company's image and advertise its products and services.

Cross-functional

Companies might have cross-functional teams when employees from different departments are working together to complete projects. Short-term projects are more suitable for this type of team because they're usually bringing unrelated skills together to reach one common goal. For example, a marketing team might temporarily collaborate with a sales team to create a campaign that's more likely to generate traffic and high sales simultaneously. These teams are likely to become functional department teams that are independent of each other again once the campaign is over.

Related: How to Develop Cross-Functional Teams for Your Company

Virtual

Virtual teams comprise individuals from a variety of different workplaces, departments, and locations. Modes of electronic communication make it possible for this type of team to work together and accomplish tasks without ever meeting face-to-face. Virtual teams may be beneficial for companies because they can populate virtual teams with the most suitable individuals for a specific project without geographical restrictions. Companies with an interest in expanding their reach to broader or more diverse locations may implement virtual teams to receive advice and input from teams that originate from those locations.

Related: What Is a Virtual Team? (Types, Benefits, and Drawbacks)

4 stages of developing a team

There are four main stages that explain how workplace teams form, operate, and accomplish their common goal:

1. Training

In the first stage of developing a work team, the members are meeting one another for the first time and discussing the parameters of their project. This is an excellent time for icebreaker games, so individuals can understand and be more comfortable with their teammates. They're learning about one another's stylistic differences and work habits to understand which roles they may fit into and also how to give the project the highest chance of success.

Related: 65 Icebreaker Questions

2. Defining

Team members are learning about their roles and responsibilities at this stage. There's usually an appointed team leader who provides direction and outlines expectations to ensure the success of the project. This is an excellent time to talk about conflict resolution and open communication skills because team members may compete with one another for similar roles.

3. Recognizing

By the third stage of developing a workplace team, everybody is comfortable with their assigned role and recognizes one individual as the team leader. The team leader may act as a facilitator who offers encouragement and guidance when necessary. Daily duties and workload management become more routine and ordinary, but it may be appropriate for team leaders to evaluate productivity.

4. Performing

The team is fully functional by this stage, because everybody has had the opportunity to learn how to be the most efficient in their role. The project or goal is approaching completion, and everybody is likely confident in theirs and their team members' abilities. Team members may experience feelings of satisfaction and motivation as they see the results of their combined efforts and teamwork forming. It may be beneficial to maintain those feelings by celebrating accomplishments or any significant progress.

Tips to facilitate teamwork within a workplace team

Applying any of these changes may help individuals become better team members:

Give and ask for feedback

It can be extremely motivational for team members if you compliment them when you notice they're doing a certain task well. It lets them know that their team members are recognizing and appreciating their hard work and dedication to the task. By asking for feedback, you're also giving yourself an opportunity to see the areas in which you excel or may improve. It may be beneficial to ask members of management or team leaders to consider implementing a peer review system.

Embrace differences

Work-related differences can sometimes lead to conflict, but it's also an opportunity to learn new skills and develop new ways of thinking. It's usually beneficial if team members can compromise and listen to each other's perspectives. Individuals may even discover that they agree with their team members once there's an opportunity for them to explain their ideas.

Offer and receive support

Becoming a part of a team means there are other individuals who can offer needed support and guidance. If an individual's tasks for the day are easy and they complete them early, then they can consider helping their teammates with their tasks to lighten their workloads. Helping one another is a great way to create positive relationships between team members.

Foster open communication

It's important for team members to communicate with one another regularly. This can include work-related meetings, but also attempts to know and understand your team members on a more personal level. Showing an interest in building healthy, positive relationships outside of work-related discussions can turn team members into better collaborators.

Celebrate successes as a team

Recognizing the team's accomplishments, whether they're big or small, can be highly motivational. Team members may become more eager to challenge themselves and work harder. Team leaders can consider treating the rest of their team to a group lunch, or team members can propose a meeting after work to celebrate a promotion or success. Acknowledging areas of the project or goal that make the team feel proud shows them that everybody, including team leaders or upper management, values their efforts and dedication.

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