The Disadvantages of Team-Based Organizational Structure
In a team-based organizational structure, employees are set up in work groups or teams that collaborate on projects or tasks. The purpose is to have several employees share responsibilities for performance to improve problem-solving, idea generation and bottom-line results. Despite its growing prominence in early 21st century workplaces, a team-based structure does have drawbacks relative to more traditional organizational structures.
While teams may develop better ideas, they often come from more investment of time in the decision-making process. Teams must meet regularly to discuss their project and task objectives, to assign roles and to discuss problems and resolutions. This typically takes more time than one person doing his own research and making decisions. Regularly scheduled meetings that offer little progress toward shared goals can also delay work activities.
Building successful work teams does not happen by accident. You can't simply throw employees together and tell them to get along and come up with brilliant work. Companies that succeed in a team-based setup typically offer the requisite training and support. This includes coaching employees on how to work through problems efficiently, effectively and professionally even when conflict arises. It also means offering forums, virtual team rooms or other technology as needed so that teams can collaborate even when they aren't meeting face-to-face.
Tension and conflict are inherent in work teams. In fact, tension in team meetings is often necessary to shake out the best ideas from a brainstorming session. If conflict resolution skills are not managed, though, conflicts can get personal and create rifts in the team. When employees start calling each other names or develop anger toward one another, their ability to sort through ideas and look at all perspectives is impeded. This minimizes the objectives of work groups.
Setting goals and assessing performance of work teams is a challenge as well. HR departments and managers must figure out how to motivate individual employees toward team objectives. Some companies use employee evaluations that combine team criteria and the individual's performance in his role. Others use team-based incentive pay that rewards each team member when his group achieves preset standards in sales, service or production.