On Teams: the point and the counterpoint


The value of teams is now well known. Let’s summarize the primary benefits that experts agree can result from the introduction of work teams.

Increased employee motivation

Work teams enhance employee involvement .They typically make jobs more interesting. They help employees meet their social needs. They also create social pressures on slackers to exert higher levels of effort in order to remain in the team’s good books.

Higher levels of Productivity

Teams have the potential to create positive synergy .In recent years; the introduction of teams in most organizations has been associated with cuts in staff. What management has done is to use the positive synergy to get the same or greater output from fewer people.

Increased employee satisfaction

Employees have a need for affiliation. Working in teams can help meet this need by increasing worker interactions and creating camaraderie among team members.

Common commitment to goals

Teams encourage individuals to sublimate their individual goals for those of the group.

Expanded job skills

The implementation of teams almost always comes with expanded job training .Through this training; employees build their technical, decision-making, and interpersonal skills.

Organizational flexibility

Teams focus on processes rather than functions. They encourage cross-training, so members can do each other’s job, and indulge in expansion of skills .This expansion of skill increases organizational flexibility. Work can be reorganized and workers allocated, as needed, to meet changing conditions.


Teams are no panacea. Let’s take a critical look at three of the assumptions that seem to underlie the team ideology.

Mature teams are task oriented and have successfully minimized the negatives influences of other group forces .Task-oriented teams still experience anti task behavior, and indeed have much in common with other types of groups. For instance, they often suffer from infighting over assignments and decision outcomes, low participation rates, and member apathy.

Individual, group, and organizational goals can all be integrated into common team goals. Contrary to what team advocates assume, people are not so simply motivated by the sociability and self-actualization supposedly offered by work teams. These teams suffer from competitiveness, conflict and hostility .Contrary to the notion that teams increase job satisfaction, the evidence suggests that individuals experience substantial and continuing stress as team members.

The team environment drives out the subversive forces of politics ,power, and conflict that divert groups from efficiently doing their work .Recipes for effective teams rate them on the quality of decision making, communication, cohesion, clarity and acceptance of goals, acceptance of minority views, and other criteria. Such recipes betray the fact that teams are made up of people with self-interests who are prepared to make deals, reward favorites, punish enemies, and engage in similar behaviors to further those self-interests

The argument here has been that the team ideology, under the banner of benefits for all, ignores that teams are frequently used to camouflage coercion under the pretense of maintaining cohesion; conceal conflict under the guise of consensus; convert conformity into a semblance of creativity; delay action in the supposed interests of consultation; legitimize lack of leadership; and disguise expedient arguments and personal agendas. Teams do not necessarily provide fulfillment of individual needs, nor do they necessarily contribute to individual satisfaction and performance or organizational effectiveness. On the contrary, it’s likely that the infatuation with teams and making every employee part of a team results in organizations failing to get the best performance from many of their members