Teamwork ‘Fashion’ May Be Out of Style

The Economist: “Teams are as old as civilisation, of course: even Jesus had 12 co-workers. But a new report by Deloitte, “Global Human Capital Trends”, based on a survey of more than 7,000 executives in over 130 countries, suggests that the fashion for teamwork has reached a new high. Almost half of those surveyed said their companies were either in the middle of restructuring or about to embark on it; and for the most part, restructuring meant putting more emphasis on teams.”

“Deloitte argues that a new organisational form is on the rise: a network of teams is replacing the conventional hierarchy. The fashion for teams is driven by a sense that the old way of organising people is too rigid for both the modern marketplace and the expectations of employees.” However: “Leigh Thompson of Kellogg School of Management in Illinois warns that, ‘Teams are not always the answer—teams may provide insight, creativity and knowledge in a way that a person working independently cannot; but teamwork may also lead to confusion, delay and poor decision-making.'”

“Teams work best if their members have a strong common culture. This is hard to achieve when, as is now the case in many big firms, a large proportion of staff are temporary contractors … Team-building skills are in short supply: Deloitte reports that only 12% of the executives they contacted feel they understand the way people work together in networks and only 21% feel confident in their ability to build cross-functional teams. Slackly managed teams can become hotbeds of distraction—employees routinely complain that they can’t get their work done because they are forced to spend too much time in meetings or compelled to work in noisy offices.”

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