Collaborating Teamwork

Teamwork. Underrated and overused

Not every task needs a team

Written by Dr. Shaun Ridley FAIM
2 minute read
Collaborating Teamwork

The power of a high functioning team should never be under- rated. We see and accept the value of great teams in the sporting arena without question.

Yet in the corporate world, teams sometimes get taken for granted, they are put together with little thought or are presumed to be workable without any effort.

All teams require effort to select the most appropriate members, to define the task, to monitor progress, and to support the development of individuals and the team as a whole.

This effort also needs to provide the necessary resources to get the job done, to manage conflicts and, finally, to manage the ending or breaking up of the team.

The very best leaders understand the complexity of this process and put time and effort into all the different elements. Observing the best coaches of successful sporting teams provides useful insights into what is required to build a high performing team in a corporate environment.

Despite often being underrated, teams are also overused by some leaders.

The assumption that every task, every project and every major decision requires a team is misguided.

This assumption comes from the trend in organisations to be seen to be consultative - to be more open, transparent and to share decision-making through all levels.

Teams are fantastic when working on complex tasks or projects where diversity of thought, division of labour and consensus are required. However, they are a complete waste of time if the task is a one-person job, with a single correct answer and an uncontroversial agenda.

In these cases, teams of people sitting in deliberation provides little value and simply lowers overall productivity. It may even confuse a simple decision- making process.

If the project can be run by a single expert, then let them do it.

Encourage that person to seek the advice and support of others if required, even pull together a group for one or two quick meetings, but certainly don't create a team with an open agenda and no termination date.

One more small step in the next 24 hours

Look at the composition, agenda and timelines for each of the teams under your influence or control.

Does the team need to exist, or could the work be done just as well (or better) by an individual expert in the field?

If it does need a team approach, challenge yourself to think critically about each team to see if you have the right people, doing the right work for the right amount of time.

Put in the time and effort, as if you were the coach of an elite sporting team, to provide the support and resources to increase the team’s chances of success.

Ask yourself:

What impact could this action have on your leadership success? 
How likely is it you could implement this action successfully?