Teams Work for Companies in the Right Situations

Posted by Kristin Arnold on July 24, 2008

More and more work is being done in teams.  This is good news if your company is using teams effectively — bringing together the right people with the proper skills, knowledge and resources to achieve defined business results.  Teams are a terrific strategy to achieve results when a collaborative approach is needed.

However, teams are not the panacea for all your organization’s ills.  Just because your company has adopted a team approach, not everything has to be done in teams!  Many tasks and challengs are best handled either by an individual working alone or by a small sub-group from the main team.  Where appropriate, bring the right people together when the issue is:

Complex and Requires Expertise from a Variety of Disciplines.  One person doesn’t have all the information or answers.

Non-Linear.  The work occurs simultaneously and many different tasks, functions and people are linked together.

High Stakes.  The problem or opportunity area affects more than a few individuals and people have a big stake in the issue.

High Commitment.  The business results will require a high degree of involvement and buy-in in order to develop and implement the solution.

Teams are not appropriate when there is:

No Time.  You may not be able to form a team when there is an immediate, full-blown crisis.  But you can let others know what you did after the fact.

Expertise.  One person has the knowledge and resources to accomplish the task.  In addition, that person should have the power and authority to implement the decision with or without others’ involvement, support and commitment.

No Support.  If the organization doesn’t support the team efforts, don’t even bother with the team approach.  For example, if management isn’t open to the team’s suggestions, won’t provide the resources, or can’t accept the team’s recommendations.

No Common Ground.  Team members have no work in common — or if they do, it is a stretch and is clearly not the team’s main line of business.

Just because you put people on a team together doesn’t mean they are going to act like or work like a team.  It may make perfect sense to continue treating team members as separate individuals, rather than artificially trying to weld them into a more cohesive team unit.  The challenge is to divert work to where it is best done.  Not everything has to be tackled as a team issue.

Question:  Do you find that there a projects you can handle better individually?


Posted in Roles on by Kristin Arnold.

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