Team: Definition, Characteristics, Types and Ingredients of Effective Team

What is Team?

What is Team?A team becomes more than just a collection of people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, thus generating performance greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members.

One of the many ways for a business to organize employees is in teams. A team is made up of two or more people who work together to achieve a common goal.

Teams offer an alternative to a vertical chain-of-command and are a much more inclusive approach to business organization, Teams are becoming more common in the business world today. Effective teams can lead to an increase in employee motivation and business productivity.

The team can be defined by following ways too:

  • A group of people who compete in a sport, game, etc., against another group.
  • A group of people who work together.
  • A group of two or more animals used to pull a wagon, cart, etc.
  • A number of persons forming one of the sides in a game or contest.
  • A number of persons associated in some joint action: a team of experts.

Characteristics of Effective Teams

Characteristics of Effective Teams

While no team exists without problems, some teams particularly those who have learned to counter negative team dynamics seem to be especially good at preventing many issues.

We have put together a list of what may be considered as the most essential ingredients for creating effective teams:

  • Ideal Size and Membership.
  • Fairness in Decision-Making.
  • Creativity.
  • Accountability.
  • Purpose and Goals.
  • Action Plans.
  • Roles & Responsibilities.
  • Information Sharing.
  • Good Data.
  • Meeting Skills and Practices.
  • Decision Making.
  • Participation.
  • Ground Rules.
  • Clear Roles.
  • Accepted Leadership.
  • Effective Processes.
  • Solid Relationships.
  • Excellent Communication.

Ideal Size and Membership

The team should be the minimum size needed to achieve the team’s goals and include members with the right mix of skills and talents to get the job done.

Fairness in Decision-Making

Ideally, teams will make decisions by consensus. When consensus is not feasible, teams will use fair decision-making procedures that everyone agrees on.


Effective teams value original thinking and will produce new and unique approaches to organizational problems.


Members must be accountable to each other for getting their work done on schedule and following the group’s rules and procedures.

Purpose and Goals

Every team member must clearly understand the purpose and goals for bringing this particular group of individuals together.

Action Plans

Help the team determine what advice, assistance, training, materials, and other resources it may be needed.

Roles & Responsibilities

Teams operate most efficiently if they tap everyone’s talents. All members understand their own duties and know who is responsible for what.

Information Sharing

Effective discussions depend upon how well information is passed between team members – hoarding information cannot be tolerated. A proliferation of new technologies has made this easier than it has ever been.

Good Data

With information sharing comes the requirement for good data. Teams that use good data for problem-solving and decision making have a much easier time arriving at permanent solutions to problems.

Meeting Skills and Practices

All team members must commit to a common method for conducting meetings. There is no ‘best’ method, but everyone must be on the same page.

Decision Making

This is really a subset of the ‘Skills & Practices’. There is no ‘one way’ to reach a decision, but it must be a recognized path and transparent to all team members.


Since every team member has a stake In the group’s achievements, everyone should participate in discussions and decisions, share a commitment to the team’s success, and contribute their talents.

Ground Rules

Groups invariably establish ground rules (or “norms”) for what will and will not be tolerated within the group. Many members will want to skip the laying of ground rules, but in the long run investment up front will head off major issues down the road.

Clear Roles

How we apportion the team purpose will in large measure determine the- team synergy. High-performing teams leverage individuals’ different roles against collective work products.

Therefore, it is essential that every team member is clear about his or her own role as well as the role of every other team member. Roles are about the design, division, and deployment of the work of the team.

While the concept is compellingly logical, many teams find it challenging to implement. There is often a tendency to take role definition to extremes or not to take it far enough.

Accepted Leadership

High-performance teams need competent leadership. When such leadership is lacking, groups can quickly lose their way. Whereas a common, compelling task might be the biggest contributor to team effectiveness, inadequate team leadership is often the single biggest reason for team ineffectiveness.

In most organizational settings, it is the leader who frames the team purpose and facilitates discussions on its meaning and nature. The vision, commitment, and communication of the leader govern the optics through which individual team members see the team purpose and become aligned to it.

Effective Processes

Teams and processes go together. It would never occur to a surgical team, construction crew, string quartet, or film crew to approach tasks without clearly defined processes. The playbook of a football team or the score sheet of a string quartet clearly outlines the necessary processes.

Business teams have processes as well, which might include solving problems, making decisions, managing a meeting, or designing a product.

Solid Relationships

One of the biggest misperceptions in the world of teams and teamwork is the belief that to work and communicate effectively, team members must be friends.

In fact, the diversity of skills, experience, and knowledge needed to divide tasks effectively almost precludes high levels of friendship, which is most often based on commonality — of the way people think, their interests, or beliefs.

Excellent Communication

Communication is the very means of cooperation. One of the primary motives of companies choosing to implement teams is that team-based organizations are more responsive and move faster. A team cannot move faster than it communicates.

Fast, clear, timely, accurate communication is a hallmark of high levels of team performance. High-performance teams have mastered the art of straight talk; there is little motion wasted through misunderstanding or confusion.

Types of Team

There are various types of teams and their functions and objectives are also different. The types of teams are discussed are below:

  • Executive Team,
  • Command Team,
  • Project Teams,
  • Advisory Teams,
  • Work Teams,
  • Action Teams,
  • Sports Teams,
  • Virtual Teams,
  • Work Teams,
  • Self-Managed Team,
  • Parallel Teams,
  • Management Teams,
  • Managed Team.

Executive Team

An executive team is a management team that draws up plans for activities and then directs these activities.

An example of an executive team would be a construction team designing. blueprints for a new building, and then guiding the construction of the building using these blueprints.

Command Team

The goal of the command team is to combine instructions and coordinate action among management. In other words, command teams serve as the “middle man” in the task.

For instance, messengers on a construction site, conveying instructions from the executive team to the builders would be an example Of a command team.

Project Teams

A team used only for a defined period of time and for a separate, Concretely definable purpose often becomes known as a project team. This category of teams includes negotiation, compassion and design team subtypes.

In general, these types of teams are multi-talented and composed of individuals with expertise in many different areas. Members of these teams might belong to different groups, but receive an assignment to activities for the same project.

Advisory Teams

Advisory teams make suggestions about a final product. For instance, a quality control group on an assembly line would be an example of an advisory team. They would examine the products produced and make suggestions about how to improve the quality of the items being made.

Work Teams

Work teams are responsible for the actual act of creating tangible products and services. The actual workers on an assembly line would be an example of a production team, whereas waiters and waitresses at a diner would be an example of a service team.

Action Teams

Action teams are highly specialized and coordinated teams whose actions are intensely focused on producing a product or service. A football team would be an example of an action team. Other examples occur in the military, paramedics, and transportation (e g., a flight crew on an airplane).

Sports Teams

A sports team is a group of people which play sports, often team sports together. Members include all players (even those who are waiting their turn to play) as well as support members such as a team manager or coach.

Virtual Teams

Developments in information and communications technology have seen the difference of the virtual work team.

A virtual team is a group of people who work interdependently and with shared purpose across space, time, and organizational boundaries using technology to communicate and collaborate.

Virtual team members can be located across a country or across the world, rarely meet face-to-face, and include members from different cultures.

Work Teams

Work teams (also referred to as production and service teams) are continuing work units responsible for producing goods or providing services for the organization. Their membership is typically stable, usually full-time, and well-defined. These teams are traditionally directed by a supervisor who mandates what work is done, who does it, and in what manner is it executed.

Self-Managed Team

Self-managed work teams (also referred to as autonomous work groups) allow their members to make a greater contribution at work and constitute a significant competitive advantage for the organization.

These work teams determine how they will accomplish the objectives they are mandated to achieve and decide what route they will take to complete the current assignment.

Self-managed work teams are granted the responsibility of planning scheduling, organizing, directing, controlling and evaluating their own work process.

Parallel Teams

Parallel teams (also referred to as advice and involvement teams) pull together people from different work units or jobs to perform functions that the regular organization is not equipped to perform well.

These teams are given limited authority and can only make recommendations to individuals higher in the organizational hierarchy.

Management Teams

Management teams (also referred to as action and negotiation teams) are responsible for the coordination and direction of a division within an institution or organization during various assigned projects and functional, operational and/or strategic tasks and initiatives.

Management teams are responsible for the total performance of the division they oversee with regards to day-to-day operations, a delegation of tasks and the supervision of employees.

Managed Team

Managed groups sometimes also work together as a team on a single, focused objective or task. In such groups, people may come from diverse background, with each bringing a specialized skill to the team.

Differences between Groups and Teams


Individual accountability.

Read More: What is Group?

Individual and mutual accountability.
Come together to share information and perspectives.Frequently come together for discussion, decision making, problem-solving, and planning.
Focus on individual goals.Focus on team goals.
Produce individual work products.Produce collective work products.
Define individual roles, responsibilities, and tasks.Define individual roles, responsibilities, and tasks to help the team do its work; often share and rotate them.
Concerned with one’s own outcome and challenges.Concerned with the outcomes of everyone and challenges the team faces.
Purpose, goals, approach to work shaped by the manager.Purpose, goals, approach to work shaped by the team leader with team members.
The leader dominates and controls the group.The leader acts as a facilitator.
The leader is apparent and will conduct the meeting.The members have active participation in the discussions and eventual outcome.
The leader usually assigns work to the members.The team members decide on the disbursements of work assignments.
Groups do not need to focus on specific outcomes or a common purpose.Teams require the coordination of tasks and activities to achieve a shared aim.
Individuals in a group can be entirely disconnected from one another and not rely upon the fellow members at all.Team members are interdependent since they bring to bear a set of resources to produce a common outcome.
Groups are generally much more informal; roles do not need to be assigned and norms of behavior do not need to develop.Team members’ individual roles and duties are specified and their ways of working together are defined.


A group of people with a full set Of complementary skills required to complete a task, job, or project.

Team members operate with a high degree of interdependence, share authority and responsibility for self-management, are accountable for the collective performance, and work toward a common goal and shared rewards(s).

Ingredients of Effective Team, What Makes a Team Effective

Many studies have been conducted in an attempt to isolate the factors that contribute most directly to team success. Common items identified include careful composition, information sharing, clear direction and measurable goals for accountability, sufficient resources, integration and coordination, flexibility and innovativeness, and the stimulation of openness to learning.

Here focus on 4 major factors of an effective team:

  1. Supportive Environment.
  2. Skills and Role Clarity.
  3. Super Ordinate Goals.
  4. Team Rewards.

Supportive Environment

Teamwork is. most likely to develop when management builds a supportive environment for it.

Creating such an environment involves encouraging members to think like a team, providing adequate time for meetings, and demonstrating faith in members’ capacity to.achieve.

Supportive measures such as these help the group take the necessary first steps toward teamwork. Since these steps contribute to further cooperation, trust, and compatibility, supervisors need to develop an organizational culture that builds these conditions.

Skills and Role Clarity

Team members must be reasonably qualified to perform their jobs and have the desire to cooperate.

Beyond these requirements, members can work together as a team only after all the members of the group know the roles of all the others with whom they will be interacting.

When this understanding exists, members can act immediately as a team on the basis of the requirements of that situation, without waiting for someone to give an order.

In other words, team members respond voluntarily to the demands of the job and take appropriate actions to accomplish team goals.

Super Ordinate Goals

A major responsibility of managers is to try to keep the team members oriented toward their overall task. Sometimes, unfortunately, an organization’s policies, record-keeping requirements, and reward systems may fragment’individual efforts and discourage teamwork.

Team Rewards

Another element that can stimulate teamwork is the presence of team rewards. These may be financial, or they may be in the form of recognition. Rewards are most powerful if they are valued by the team members, perceived as possible to earn, and administered contingent on the group’s task performance.

In addition, organizations need to achieve a careful balance between encouraging and rewarding individual initiative and growth and stimulating full contributions to team success.

Innovative (nonfinancial) team rewards for possible behavior may include the authority to select new members of the group, make recommendations regarding a new supervisor, or propose discipline for team members.