Ask The Experts

When teamwork isn’t the ideal solution

Question: For a long while now, my employees have been working in teams, as the nature of their work somewhat calls for such form of engagement. The outcomes of this working style have been very encouraging.

Their production every year is satisfactory, and the people are somewhat united with minimal conflict. I guess they are used to the environment where they meet up to share ideas and discuss how they want to move forward together.

I am thinking of not just stopping here, but expanding this mode of working to other departments as well. However, I am not sure if it is a wise thing to replicate this management to all departments? What is your view on this?

Answer: It is really important that you have a good reason to extend this working style to other departments, when things are going well there without implementing formal work teams.

Breaking their routine to adapt to formal work teams for the sake of it can spell trouble. What works in one department does not necessarily mean that it will work as well in another.

You would be rocking the boat when you enforce upon people who are already set in their ways, or have diverse personalities, to work together.

Do remember that in formal work teams, people have to change for the common good, modify their individual work styles, replace their individual goal with a group goal and so forth. All these can be a daunting change for those who prefer working in an individual setting instead.

Here are some considerations to take into account when evaluating whether formal work teams are healthy for your organisation: the frequency of decisions made on-the-spot by experienced people; whether everyone is capable of doing the same job; situations when information needs to be shared; how often problems need to be solved together; and how often issues need to be raised together, as all these factors can have a huge impact on the organisation.

Powerful Questions You Can Ask Yourself

• What is your reason for wanting to make every one part of a formal team?

• In what way(s) is the current formal team similar to the others?

• In what way(s) do they differ?

• What is the worst that could happen if they are left as they are?

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