Salas, Rosen, Burke, Goodwin, and Fiore (2006) have defined “…an expert team as a set of interdependent team members, each of whom possesses unique and expert-level knowledge, skills, and experience related to task performance, and who adapt, coordinate, and cooperate as a team, thereby producing sustainable, and repeatable team functioning at superior or at least near-optimal levels of performance” (p. 440).
Rosen, Salas, Lyons, and Fiore (2008), adapting a table from Salas, et al. (2006), presented a list that characterizes members of expert teams. They (pp. 221-222):
1. Develop shared mental models
- They anticipate each other’s needs and actions.
- They can communicate implicitly.
- They interpret cues in a complimentary manner.
2. Learn and adapt.
- They self-correct.
- They learn from past decision-making episodes.
- They adapt coordinating processes to dynamic environments.
- They compensate for each other.
3. Maintain clear roles and responsibilities.
- They manage expectations.
- They understand each other’s roles and how they fit together.
- They maintain clarity of roles while maintaining flexibility.
4. Possess clear, valued, and shared vision.
- They develop their goals with a shared sense of purpose.
- They guide their decisions with a common set of values.
5. Develop a cycle of pre-brief -> performance -> debrief.
- They regularly provide individual and team level feedback to one another.
- They establish and revise team goals and plans.
- They dynamically set priorities.
- They anticipate and review issues/problems of members.
- They periodically diagnose team decision making “effectiveness,” including its results, and its processes.
6. Are led by strong team leaders.
- They are led by someone with good leadership skills and not just technical competence.
- They believe the leaders care about them.
- Leaders of expert teams provide situation updates.
- Leaders of expert teams foster teamwork, coordination, and cooperation.
- Leaders of expert teams self-correct first.
7. Have a strong sense of “collective,” trust, teamness, and confidence.
- They manage conflict well; they confront each other effectively.
- They have a strong sense of team orientation.
- They trust other team members’ “intentions.”
- They strongly believe in the team’s collective ability to succeed.
8. Cooperate and coordinate.
- They identify teamwork and task work requirements.
- They ensure that, through staffing and/or development, the team possesses the right mix of competencies.
- They consciously integrate new team members.
- They distribute and assign work thoughtfully.
- They examine and adjust the team’s physical workplace to optimize communication and coordination.
Rosen, M.A., Salas, E., Lyons, R., & Fiore, S.M. (2008). Expertise and naturalistic decision making in organizations: Mechanisms of effective decision making. In G.P. Hodgkinson & W.H. Starbuck (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Decision Making (pp. 211-230). New York: Oxford University Press.
Salas, E., Rosen, M. A., Burke, C. S., Goodwin, G. F., & Fiore, S. (2006). The making of a dream team: When expert teams do best. In K. A. Ericsson, N. Charness, P. J. Feltovich & R. R. Hoffman (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (pp. 439-453). New York: Cambridge University Press.