1.3 Is a team or group really needed?
There may be times when group working – or simply working alone – is more appropriate and more effective. For example, decision-making in groups and teams is usually slower than individual decision-making because of the need for communication and consensus. In addition, groups and teams may produce conventional rather than innovative responses to problems, because decisions may regress towards the average, with the more innovative decision options being rejected (Makin et al., 1989).
In general, the greater the ‘task uncertainty’, that is to say the less obvious and more complex the task to be addressed, the more important it will be to work in a group or team rather than individually. This is because there will be a greater need for different skills and perspectives, especially if it is necessary to represent the different perspectives of the different stakeholders involved.
Table 2 lists some occasions when it will be appropriate to work in teams, in groups or alone.
Table 2 When to work alone, in groups or in teams
|When to work alone or in groups||When to build teams|
|For simple tasks or problems||For highly-complex tasks or problems|
|When cooperation is sufficient||When decisions by consensus are essential|
|When minimum discretion is required||When there is a high level of choice and uncertainty|
|When fast decisions are needed||When high commitment is needed|
|When few competences are required||When a broad range of competences and different skills are required|
|When members’ interests are different or in conflict||When members’ objectives can be brought together towards a common purpose|
|When an organisation credits individuals for operational outputs||When an organisation rewards team results for strategy and vision building|
|When innovative responses are sought||When balanced views are sought|