Team Structure

Have you ever thought about why we study atomic structures in chemistry? Well, we study them to understand their arrangements and how they function. We know how they combine to form compounds. Similarly, we study organizational structures to understand their functionality. This explanation covers one of the essential organizational structures, i.e., team structure. 

Team Structure Team Structure

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Table of contents

    Team Structure Definition

    An organization needs a structure to function on a day-to-day basis. It helps the employees understand their roles, culture, and flow of communication within an organization. The clarity in roles and smooth communication ensure efficient decision-making. Organizational structure helps create clearly defined responsibilities, performance, and evaluation standards in the organization. There are many types of organizational structures, and team structure is one of them.

    The team structure is an organizational structure in which different teams perform their specialized tasks to contribute to the common goal of a company. These teams are empowered to make their decisions while keeping in view the company's overall objectives.

    Many organizations have decentralized their structures to empower their employees. Additionally, they have adopted a team structure to improve performance and communication flow. In a team structure, each team has a leader/manager who reports the team's performance to senior management. These teams may have different roles, but they have a common interest, i.e., to improve their performance and help the organization grow and achieve its mission.

    A company has a marketing and operations team. The marketing team is concerned with improving the marketing performance by devising comprehensive marketing campaigns. On the other hand, the operations team is tasked with improving operational performance by optimizing operations and processes. These two teams work towards a common goal, i.e., to improve the company's overall performance.

    Team Structure in Management

    As mentioned earlier, team structure replaces the functional departments with more empowered teams. Therefore, it eliminates the vertical and horizontal hierarchy in the organization. As a result, there is less focus on ranks and more on the teams' performance. The teams coordinate with each other and work towards attaining the organization's objectives.

    Team structure enables an organization to reduce barriers with its customers and suppliers. This ensures smooth communication and transparency with them. As a result, the organization can satisfy the customers' demands and enjoy strong relations with its suppliers.

    Team Structure Team structure empowers employees StudySmarterFig. 1 - Team structure empowers employees

    Team Structure Organization

    We have established that team structure provides more control and flexibility to the employees. It enables teams to make timely decisions and improve their performance. The question is, how can we organize a team structure in a company? Let's go through the steps that can help a company implement a team structure.

    Identify the right structure – Many organizational structures are available to a company. The priority should be on identifying the right team structure. The management should research the structures and take input from industry leaders if needed. Selecting the right team design depends on the organizational goals, objectives, and mission.

    Align the goals – Once you have selected a team structure, it's time to align the organizational goals. You must set clear objectives to align the goals with the team structure. The team members should sit together to decide the best way forward for implementation.

    Set clear responsibilities – At this point, you clearly understand the structure and goals. You should assign clear roles and responsibilities. It helps determine the team's performance expectations, which is essential for evaluation and supervision.

    Ensure open communication – To make team structure work efficiently, fostering open communication in the teams is crucial. When employees feel free to share ideas and concerns with others in their team, it helps resolve issues in a timely manner and improves the teams' overall performance.

    Team Structure Examples

    Some companies have fully adopted the team structure. Let's discuss some of them.

    Basecamp

    Basecamp is a software company based in Chicago, Illinois. The company has small teams to carry out each project. These teams are empowered to make their decisions. As for performance accountability, the focus is on completing the tasks in the allotted time. The communication channels are accessible to everyone. The teams coordinate with each other to keep track of performance and to share information/feedback.1

    StudySmarter

    StudySmarter is an Edtech company that develops content for study purposes. The company has operations in multiple countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom. It has a team-based organizational structure. There are several teams, such as content, design, marketing, etc. Each team has a manager and a team lead. The team members report to the manager, who then reports to the team lead. Due to the team structure, there is open communication across teams.

    Team Structure Types

    There are different types of team structures. A company decides on a type of team structure based on its objectives. We briefly discuss each of them in the following section.

    Functional team – In this type of team structure, the employees with similar job functions are grouped. This team division is based on the tasks and skills of the employees. For instance, content creators work in the content team. It allows employees to collaborate and improve the organization's performance. This type is suitable for teams that want to develop experts in the field.

    Cross-functional team – This type of team has employees belonging to different areas of a business. This team is assembled to perform tasks that require diverse expertise. For instance, a company plans a project to develop a website. They need to employ a content creator, front-end and back-end developers, and designers. The manager's task is to ensure a healthy and collaborative working environment in cross-functional teams.

    Team Structure Cross-functional team has diverse expertise StudySmarterFig. 2 - Cross-functional team has diverse expertise

    Market-based team – In this type of team structure, the teams are assembled based on markets. It is suitable for companies that target specific markets. The members of these teams have a comprehensive understanding of particular markets. For example, a multinational corporation might have different marketing teams for North and South America.

    Virtual team – As the name suggests, this type of team is for people who work from different locations and employ technology to work together. The team members are connected through a communication channel. They constantly communicate through online platforms such as Google Workplace, Slack, or Zoom. In the aftermath of Covid-19, this structure has become more widely used.

    Team Structure Advantages and Disadvantages

    Team structure provides many benefits to the organization. However, there are some issues that organizations could face by adopting this structure. Here are some common advantages and disadvantages of team structure.

    Team Structure Advantages:

    Good communication flow – Team structure allows employees to use different communication channels. They can choose them according to the demands of a situation. It ensures a good flow of communication among team members. It enables them to resolve issues promptly and improve the company's performance.

    Enhanced efficiency & productivity – Team structure ensures good communication flow, which means employees can collaborate to complete the projects. They can share ideas, resolve issues, provide feedback, and finish tasks promptly to increase output. It enhances the efficiency and productivity of the company.

    Empowered employees – Team structure allows employees to learn and grow. When team members work on a project, they exchange knowledge and ideas. It enables them to develop as professionals. As a result, they feel empowered.

    Innovation – When employees feel empowered, they do not shy away from bringing new ideas to the table. It creates an environment where they feel encouraged to innovate. These innovative ideas could improve the organization's performance, develop new products/services, and reach new markets.

    Sense of community – Team structure provides a sense of community to the employees. They understand that there is a common goal, and each one of them is working hard to achieve it. As a result, they realize that they have formed a community.

    Team Structure Disadvantages:

    Conflicts – When employees work in teams, conflicts could arise due to personal or professional reasons. Conflict can negatively affect team dynamics, resulting in a lack of harmony. This issue could be detrimental to the success of the team. The manager or team leader's job is to ensure that each team member respects one another.

    Lack of compatibility – Another disadvantage of team structure is the lack of compatibility among the team members. Some employees prefer to work alone than in a team. Such employees could show a lack of effort and participation in teamwork. This situation could hamper the performance of the whole team.

    Team Structure - Key takeaways

    • Organizational structure helps the employees to understand the roles, culture, and flow of communication within an organization.
    • In a team structure, there is less focus on ranks and more on the teams' performance.
    • Team structure enables an organization to reduce barriers with its customers and suppliers.
    • Team structure enables an organization to maintain smooth communication and transparency with its stakeholders.
    • Team structure provides employees the opportunity to learn and grow along the way.
    • Team structure provides a sense of community to the employees.

    References

    1. Team-Based Structures: https://communicationmgmt.usc.edu/blog/team-based-structures/
    Frequently Asked Questions about Team Structure

    What are the 4 structures of a team? 

    Functional, cross-functional, market-based, and virtual teams are the four structures of a team. 

    What is an effective team structure? 

    A structure that has clarity in terms of authority, accountability, and roles is an effective team structure.  

    What are the basic elements of team structure? 

    Goals, responsibilities, and open communication are the basic elements of a team structure.  

    What is team structure used for? 

    Team structure is used to function on a day-to-day basis. It helps employees understand their roles, culture, and flow of communication within an organization. 

    What are the different types of team structures? 

    Functional, cross-functional, market-based, and virtual teams are the different types of team structures.  

    What factors influence team structure? 

    Goals, responsibilities, and communication influence team structure. 

    Why is structure important in a team? 

    Structure is important in a team because it helps the employees understand their roles, culture, and flow of communication within an organization. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Organizational structure helps the employees to understand the roles, culture, and flow of communication within an organization.

    Organizational _______ helps in creating clearly defined responsibilities, performance, and evaluation standards in an organization

    Team structure always improves performance and communication flow in an organization. 

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