Chapter 10. Managing the Temporary Team

The use of temporary teams, often called ad hoc committees, task forces, or project teams, is widely practiced in most organizations. This collection of people must come together and in a relatively short time (usually from six weeks to a year) come up with a work plan, make decisions, develop recommendations, or take specific actions that are carefully thought through and useful. To accomplish these goals in a relatively short time with people who already have full-time assignments elsewhere in the organization, the team must come together and quickly coalesce and be productive almost immediately—which is not easy given that developing the appropriate team context, composition, and team competencies typically takes considerable time. How to start and manage these types of teams is the focus of this chapter.

Preliminary Conditions for Temporary Teams

Temporary teams are usually constrained by time. They are generally together for a short duration and have limited time for any given session. Therefore members often feel under pressure to dive immediately into the work at hand and are reluctant to spend the time needed to get acquainted, plan how the group will work, make realistic assignments, develop measurable performance goals, and build some commitment to one another—in other words, become a real team.

A case study of two groups, each appointed to function for about a year, highlights the importance of team formation to the group’s later functioning. ...

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