Study Notes: Formal and Informal Work Teams


A team consists of a group of individuals who work together with the aim of achieving specific tasks or reaching common objectives. There are many different types of team groupings and these are not only restricted to the workplace. For example, there may be a Neighbourhood Watch Committee in your local area or you may be a member of a sporting team.


Throughout history it has been recognised that a group approach in the accomplishment of certain tasks can be a very effective way of getting things done. The team approach has also been formally recognised as a legitimate method of achieving set objectives in the modern workplace.


The type of team formed and the way in which it functions depends upon its' particular purpose or goal. In the workplace, teams may consist of a group of people working in the same department who have come together to focus on a specific project. This type of grouping may be referred to as an 'informal team' and it will form and disband as required.


On the other hand, most workplaces also contain more 'formal' work teams where the structure and functioning of the team is determined by pre-established norms and codes. For example, the Occupational Health and Safety Committee is likely to have designated roles for members (such as Chairperson, minute taker) and contain representatives across different areas of the organisation. Formal work teams also get together at regular and pre-determined meeting times to deal with business arising, compared to a less formal 'as needs' basis. Other examples might include the department Purchasing Committee or an Animal Ethics Committee.

While it can be useful to define work teams as having a formal or informal basis it is also important to recognise that a combination of these team operating styles is evident across teams in most workplaces.



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