There are four main types of work teams: problem-solving teams, self-managed work teams, cross-functional teams, and virtual teams. Groups differ from teams in that groups are usually authoritarian in nature, whereby one person is primarily in charge of assigning activities and is therefore ultimately held responsible for results. Teams are conducted in a more collaborative fashion, with authority equally dispersed among members.
The problem-solving team is usually an assemblage put together to solve a particular problem or improve activities within their own department. Once they conduct research and arrive at a proposed solution, the present their findings to the proper person or panel who may or may not implement the recommended course of action.
Many large organizations, especially technology firms, find it efficient to construct formal self-managed work teams which operate independent of a supervisor and are given authority to complete an assignment, coordinate across departments, and allow team members to select tasks they would like to undertake. In other words, they must both manage and execute themselves. At the end, they are all held accountable equally.
Cross-functional teams on the other hand are comprised of members from a diversity of specialized backgrounds. For example, a content delivery network account representative may request a conference call with a customer, to which he may invite a solutions engineer, a channel sales director, an account development representative, and a professional services member. The expertise and information each brings to the table will aid in a smoother more efficient sales process that is not only practical but may spur the customer to request a purchase order.
Each of the members of any of the teams described herein, may be geographically isolated from one another. Therefore, they will require information technology tools such as computers and phones to communicate. The virtual team is composed of members that are dispersed in different areas, but are still able to work together by using technology to assist them in accomplishing their communications objectives.