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Do we need to be a team?


Do we need to operate as a team? If yes, what do we mean by team? If it’s not a team, then what is it?

Teams and managers need to be able to examine what style of operation their type of function requires, what sort of team they need to be and the behaviors that will then be required.

“Critchley and Casey” are two management authors who address the mode of group work by linking the degree of complexity or uncertainty facing a group to the need for sharing and hence the need to be a team.

Teams need to diagnose when genuine teamwork is needed as well as understand what a team is. The greater the complexity or uncertainty facing a team, the greater the need to be a team! Taking teams forward is about asking whether the way you are currently operating is helping or hindering achievement of tasks and objectives.

Teams and their leaders need to work out what they need.

One model worthy of consideration is that of “Katzenbach and Smith” who put forward a hierarchy of teams to help groups work out what they currently are and possibly where they might need to be. Group, Team or Neither?

A Working Group

People interact mainly to share best practice, information etc to help “individuals” perform better within their area of responsibility. There is no significant need for incremental performance improvement, shared responsibility, shared accountability or requirement to be a team.

A Pseudo Team

A group that may have need of incremental performance or opportunity but has not actually focused upon or achieved collective performance and effectiveness. It may call itself a team but has not yet shaped a common goal or purpose which makes it weaker than a Working Group as individuals interactions may actually detract from each other without delivering joint benefits. The sum of the whole is less than the potential sum of the parts. (unconscious incompetence?)

Potential Team

There is a significant need for increased performance and they are trying to improve their impact upon the organization or their performance. Collective accountability and common working procedures are not yet established but they are working on clearer goals and common operating approaches. (conscious incompetence?)

Real Team

This is a small number of people with complimentary skills who are equally committed to a common purpose, goals and approaches that make them mutually accountable to one another. They are reliant and interdependent upon one another for their success and growth. The performance and organizational impact of the team is far greater than the working group or pseudo team. (conscious competence?)

High Performance Team

In addition to being a real team, this team has also transcended the usual boundaries of team to be truly committed to the pursuit of one another’s growth and success. A sufficient level of openness and trust exists to regularly review operating methods and have high understanding and tolerance of individual operating styles and methods to create and continuously improve the common team operating styles and methods. (unconscious competence?)


These are discussion points that may assist people to ascertain where they are.

1. There is a significant incremental performance need or opportunity.

2. There is a joint commitment to a common mission.

3. There is consensus on objectives.

4. There is agreement on working approaches.

5. There is true interdependency.

6. There is mutual accountability.

7. Members are committed to one another’s success.

8. We outperform other teams and outperform performance expectations.


If “1” does not apply at all, then perhaps a work group or some other form of structure may be better than a team.

If “1-6” all apply, it’s a team. If only some apply, it may be a potential team

If “1-8” apply it’s a high performance team.

Now comes the tricky bit.


Sabre can help. We use tools such as the Belbin Team Roles and facilitated sessions to help people work through these issues intelligently and in a non-threatening way.

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