Team Task Analysis: Identifying Tasks and Jobs That Are Team Based

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The primary objective of the present paper is to present information on the development of three team task analysis scales. A goal was to develop these scales in such a manner that they could be easily incorporated into existing job and task analysis systems to identify team-based tasks and quantify the degree of team interdependency. The scales also allow for a quantitative assessment of the degree to which a job is team based. Initial validation data for the scales from a lab study are presented. The results of the lab data are supplemented with descriptions of applications of the scales in operational field settings.

Job and Task Analysis Scales

Task analysis entails the description of jobs in terms of identifiable units of activities. Although the level of specificity of analysis and description may vary, job and task analysis techniques are typically focused at the task level. Hence, job and task analysis is the process by which the major work behaviors and associated knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that are required for successful job or task performance are identified. Thus it is recognized, from both a professional and legal perspective, that job analysis is the critical foundation for most, if not all, human resource functions (Binning & Barrett, 1989; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission et al., 1978).

Procedurally, at some point in the job analysis process, task ratings on a number of dimensions are obtained from subject matter experts. These dimensions or scales typically encompass but are not limited to importance, frequency, time spent, criticality, difficulty of performing, difficulty of learning, time to proficiency, and consequences of errors (Arthur, Doverspike, & Barrett, 1996). Although these scales have generally been studied in the context of tasks performed by individuals (e.g., Sanchez & Fraser, 1992; Sanchez & Levine, 1989), they are clearly applicable to tasks performed by teams. However, because teams consist of two or more individuals who have specific role assignments, perform specific tasks, and must interact and coordinate to successfully achieve common goals or objectives (Baker & Salas, 1997), team tasks have an additional element of complexity that is not present in the analysis of individual tasks. These differences between individual and team tasks and the resultant need for additional task analysis scales to describe and obtain information about team tasks are described in the next section.

Overview and Summary of the Team Task Analysis Literature

Although there has been an increased amount of attention paid to teams in recent years (e.g., Artman, 2000; Bartone, Johnsen, Eid, Brun, & Laberg, 2002; Brannick, Prince, & Salas, 1997; Dyer, 1984; Hackman, 1987; Rasker, Post, & Schraagen, 2000; Salas, Burke, Bowers, & Wilson, 2001), team task analysis has received very little of this attention. For instance, a comprehensive search of the published literature identified only a small number of team task analysis papers, such as Bowers, Baker, and Salas (1994), Bowers, Morgan, Salas, and Prince (1993), Dieterly (1988), and Swezey, Owens, Bergondy, and Salas (1998; see also Baker, Salas, & Cannon-Bowers, 1998). A review of this literature highlights the differences and commonalities between individual and team tasks and, subsequently, the need for task analysis scales to describe team tasks.

First, as noted, there are some commonalities between team task analysis and individual job and task analysis. Thus rating scales such as importance, frequency, time spent, and time to proficiency are equally applicable and relevant to both individual and team tasks. In addition, individual and team task analysis share a commonality of data collection methods, such as the use of questionnaires, critical incident techniques, observation, interviews, expert judgments, and archival data. …