7 Types of TQM Teams

7 Types of TQM Teams

Teams are increasingly becoming the primary means for organizing work in contemporary business firms.

A team is a group of individuals organized to work together to accomplish an objective. In other words, a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose create a team.

Members of a team interact regularly and coordinate their activities to accomplish a specific goal. They share a vision and mission and have collective responsibility for achieving that mission. The members of the team tend to bolster each other, leading to increased effort and friendly competition.

Generally, members of a team are cross-trained and can cover for each other if one person is away from the job. In a quality environment, team members are more committed to providing the type of service that customers prefer and monitor and correct each other’s work.

To become successful in business, teamwork is a key element of TQM. With the use of teams, businesses will receive quicker and better solutions to problems.

Teams provide more permanent improvements in processes and operations. In teams, people feel more comfortable bringing up problems that may occur and can get help from other workers to find a solution and put it into place.

The development of teams and teamwork has grown dramatically in all types of organizations. Here are mainly the following types of teams that TQM organizations adopt:

Quality Circle (QC)

The new approaches to employee involvement and empowerment require difficult conceptual and behavioral changes for many managers. Quality circle (QC), which has worked so well for the Japanese, became a more acceptable approach in some cases because of the more limited impact on traditional decision-making procedures.

Quality control (QC) circle is a group of workforce-level people, usually from within one department, who volunteer to meet weekly to address quality problems that occur within their department. QC circles have been successfully implemented in Japan, contributing a great deal to the Japanese economy.

Steering Committee

A committee that sets agendas and schedules of business, as for a legislative body or other assemblage, is known as a steering committee. It is a committee set up to prepare and arrange topics to be discussed, the order of business, etc.

The purpose of steering committees is to guide organizations in their efforts to foster the total quality management philosophy and principles, proactively seek new opportunities to foster continuous improvement, establish TQM policies for the organizations, and provide guidance, endorsement, and empowerment to process teams.

The steering committee is comprised of the executive staff, and all main company functions are represented in the steering committee membership.

Cross-functional team

A cross-functional team aims to solve or investigate cross-functional problems or improvement opportunities associated with many functions or departments.

Sometimes people from external organizations, such as suppliers and customers, also participate.

Top management usually delegates the team and is therefore committed to assigning it sufficient resources in the form of time, money, and personnel. The team usually consists of professional staff and is normally disbanded after its task is finished.

Team members are chosen according to their potential contribution. Through cross-functional teams, different people from different departments work together and learn from each other. Thus, problems can be easily solved.

Cross-functional teams are effective in solving cross-functional problems.

Problem-Solving Teams

These are temporary teams to solve certain problems and also to identify and overcome causes of problems. They generally last from one week to three months.

In problem-solving teams, members share ideas or offer suggestions on how work processes and methods can be improved.

Hackman and Wageman state that the single most commonly used TQM implementation is done through the implementation of the formation of short-term problem-solving teams.

Problem-solving teams work on a wide variety of tasks, ranging from cross-functional involvement in tackling quality problems related to many functional departments to solving within-functional quality problems.

Anderson et al. suggest that internal cooperation among employees enables higher individual performance by creating mutually beneficial situations among organizational members and between organizational members and the firm as a whole.

Self-Managed Team

Self-Managed Teams are groups of employees (typically 10 to 15 in number) who perform highly related or interdependent jobs and take on many of the responsibilities of their former supervisors.

In other words, Self-Managed Teams mean a group of people working together in their own ways toward a common goal that is defined outside the team.

This type of team operates without a manager and is responsible for complete work processes or segments that deliver products or services to external or internal customers.

Virtual Teams

Virtual teams are those groups of employees who use computer technology to tie together physically dispersed members in order to achieve a common goal.

In this type of team, all types of paraverbal and nonverbal cues are absent, and the team members can easily overcome time and space constraints. Basically, this type of team works within a limited social context.

Effective Teams

Effective Teams are those groups of employees (seven to nine members) who tie together with a common purpose and achieve a specific goal, who have the same type of abilities of thinking and doing tasks, and who possess the same personality.

This type of team operates with adequate resources, under effective leadership, within a climate of trust, and uses effective performance evaluation and reward systems.

Members have a variety of skills, task identities, and tasks (significance and autonomy to work in these teams. There is flexibility in changing team members if any or more of them are unable or ineffective for the team.

Importance of Team in TQM

On the basis of top management commitment, a TQM implementation team should be established.

Such a team may consist of people from the top management team and various functional departments. Selection of team members should be based on their potential contributions to TQM implementation.

The primary responsibility of the team is to evaluate the firm’s current TQM practices as well as its overall business performance, formulate improvement possibilities, prioritize the improvement possibilities, transfer these possibilities into the improvement plan, and finally steer or supervise the implementation of the improvement plan.

It should be noted that the multidisciplinary TQM implementation team must be set up and chaired by the general manager of the firm, who should also fully support the team in conducting its implementation work.

No matter what type of team is formed, the benefits of teamwork are many, including synergy and increased skills, knowledge, productivity, flexibility, and commitment.

Among the other benefits are increased job satisfaction, employee empowerment, and improved quality and organizational effectiveness.

The team is a key concept in the TQM strategy. The concept of team and teamwork has become important in the last two decades. Some other uses of TQM teams are:

  • Teamwork enables various parts of the organization to work together to meet customer needs that can seldom be fulfilled by employees limited to one specialty.
  • TQM recognizes the interdependence of various parts of the organization and uses teams as a way to coordinate work.
  • Teams provide the capacity for rapid response to changes in customer demands.

Effectiveness of TQM Teamwork

Effectiveness is a combination of team performance in terms of output and the team’s ability to grow and generate itself. The research on team effectiveness is clear. Inside the team, there are conditions, skills, and processes that must be present for a team to be “high-performing.”

An effective team eliminates the need for a manager to be involved in daily details as members take control of doing what needs to be done. An effective team also provides more timely and appropriate customer service.

Shared understanding, facilitative functioning, decision-making, and goal-setting are crucial pieces of the puzzle of team effectiveness.

Schwarz specifies three criteria necessary for effective groups:

  1. First, an effective group produces output that meets or exceeds the standards of the group’s stakeholders.
  2. Second, the processes used to carry out the work allow members to work together effectively on current projects and on subsequent efforts.
  3. Finally, the group experience must satisfy the needs of its members.

Tannebaum and his colleagues cite the following contextual prerequisites for team success:

  1. There must be a rational basis for using a team.
  2. Management must express that they support the team.
  3. The team must have the necessary resources to complete the task.
  4. The team’s needs must be diagnosed properly.

According to Hackman, there are three useful measures for team effectiveness. The measuring standards are:

  1. Dynamic output that meets or exceeds standards;
  2. Social processes that maintain or enhance the capability of members to work together on team tasks and
  3. Collective experience that satisfies the personal needs of group members.