July 10, 2015

Teams and Organisation

A clear and common understanding of what ‘organisation’ means is crucial to building an organised team

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime.”  Babe Ruth

There is no one right solution to the concept of organisation in teams. What works for one team will not automatically work for another. Much depends on the purpose of the team, the degree of interdependency among team members, their focus on getting the job done, the size of the team, its actual location and whether the team is based in one or multiple locations.


The organisation of a team refers to the management methods it develops for controlling not just the work its members do, but how individuals and groups communicate with each other, how they evaluate and how they plan. It is also dependent on the ability to set clear goals and how the roles in that team are set and understood so that goals can be achieved effectively.


When team members are asked about organisation, responses can vary widely depending on individual opinions and understandings.  In some instances a well-run weekly meeting may be enough to satisfy members that the team is well organised. In other instances team members may not feel organised unless some of their workload can be handed over to a sub group.

The sense of organisation for a team is invariably tied up in how team members perceive:

  • the sense of direction for the team (goals);
  • the relevance of meetings (communication and participation);
  • progress ...or lack thereof (planning and evaluation);
  • how well work is sub-divided and allocated (roles and composition);
  • how well conflict and differences of opinion are handled (conflict) and
  • how performance is managed (recognition).

Furthermore, where team members end up ‘carrying’ poorer performers, and workloads become unfairly distributed, individuals will tend to sense disorder and even question the commitment of each other.


Geographic location can have a major impact on the team and its members’  perceptions of organisation. A virtual team requires a clear set of procedures to maintain effective communication that takes into consideration such issues as time differences and cultural diversity. Even a team within one building—but located on different floors—can have a sense of disorganisation if there is not adequate structure and planning in place to deal with the logistical issues relating to working in multiple locations and how work is sub divided.


To deliver the most effective organisation for a team, a leader must not only consider the above issues but must also assess the competency, maturity, capacity and dependency of the individual team members as referred to in “Appropriate Team Leadership Behaviour” and “Leadership and Team Participation” [Just add hyperlinks.]

The astute leader should not impose organisation, rather s/he should engage with team members to understand what works best and always be vigilant for obsolesce in the team’s way of doing things. Ultimately it is the  leader’s responsibility to ensure that the team is organised in the most effective manner.


Organisation is relevant to all the elements of team effectiveness. It is not about command and control; it is about the team determining and agreeing on the most appropriate management practices for its situation, goals, tasks and interdependencies. It is about finding the processes that can deliver the most efficient means of working together and delivering.

The team’s organisation must be constantly under review. Processes established for the delivery of one goal can be ineffectual for another. The team needs to adopt an organic approach, evolving their management, control and organisation practices to meet their needs.

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