Ask The Experts

To team or not to team

Question: It is obvious to me that team work is better than individuals working in their own slots. But to tear up a traditional organisation for a team-based organisation is not so easy in reality.

And of course, there are many pertinent questions to answer as well, like whether my organisation needs this team-based transformation and whether we are able to do it.

I trust you know where I am coming from. Can you shed more light on this before I decide whether to remain where we are or go for it?

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Answer: Yes, I agree that to introduce a team culture into an organisation requires a lot of thinking, planning and implementing. It is not simple and straightforward.

Basically, there are two areas you need to consider: the viability, and the readiness of your organisation to go for it.

Under viability, you need to consider if your business requires the final product to be checked through by a few departments before final delivery to your customers. If so, then having a team makes a lot of sense.

Another factor you should think of is when the quality of the product is an important business consideration. This would mean that people need to have a shared commitment to a common business objective.

Lastly, when the organisation is heading towards restructuring, this may entail cutting down jobs or even closing down departments. It therefore makes lots of business sense for a team to take over some of the jobs.

On the readiness of the organisation, you will need to evaluate how positive the workplace climate is. If there is any presence of workplace conflict and it is serious, then getting into teams will have to wait till this is resolved.

Another factor to consider is the extent of support from the top management for a team-based organisation. Where there is none, it will have a negating effect on its full utilisation.

The other is the overall attitude of the people working in team. Usually policies and reward systems are conducive to a team-based culture and getting the support of the people is much easier.

Finally, when there is strong financial stability, the readiness factor is further enhanced.

Powerful questions you can ask yourself:

Why are you considering a team-based culture?

What do you want these teams to do for your organisation?

What is missing in the current structure?

What will make the team work well for you?

Article by Dr Michael Heah, an ICF Master Certified Coach with


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