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Essay question

To what tent does ‘Teams without Teamwork’ pose a problem for people management, and what are the key issues in maximising the benefits of teams and teamwork for both employees and the organisation?




Topic sentence

The main factors that pose a problem to teams as well as teamwork include; diversity, virtuality, and customer service.

Topic sentence

Team working could promote rigid and unhelpful attitudes wherein strong norms of the team actually could stifle individual initiative and creativity.

Topic sentence

Teams with no responsibilities and freedoms are doomed to fail. Basically, working inexperience in teams is a major problem for organisations.

With regard to customer service, failure to share information in a supportive attitude and timely way would make the team suffer and ultimately influence customer service. Basically, teams that know how to leverage synergy understand the significance of being efficient as well as effective.

Diversity poses numerous problems, especially in terms of communication due to language and cultural differences. The team effectiveness depends on the employees’ ability to understand such cultural differences and measures taken by the organisation to promote diversity. Most of the cultures are inclined to generate a homogenous environment.

A number of studies cited by Marks and Richards (2012) have observed some challenges associated with virtuality in the teams and organisations. The structures of the virtual team result in challenges, like inadequate social cues, non-existing socio-emotional connections, and reduced sense of connectedness amongst the team members. It also leads to work coordination and communication difficulties and ambiguity.

Source: (Marks & Richards, 2012)

As mentioned by Mallon and Kearney (2001), failure could happen in a team when it is instituted with objectives that are poorly defined or when the organisation’s boundary management is exceedingly poor. Furthermore, team members could develop rigid and unhelpful attitudes when the organisation turns a blind eye to important organisation’s system like control and reward. Without a doubt, introducing team-working could distress the time-honoured norms as well as the strong vested interests. Therefore, politics and power are main issues that affect team-working in many organisations.

Source: (Mallon & Kearney, 2001)

When the management fail to offer sufficient training on team skills can lead to some organisational challenges. For a team to be effective, the member’s responsibilities must be defined clearly, and must be given to give their views and opinions. According to Townsend (2007), responsibilities in many teams are developed by the team leaders. In most case, the management intentions are not realised leading to other problems. When the management makes all decisions, it becomes difficult for the team members to react to the problems they are facing.

Source: (Townsend, 2007)


Basically, the visual cues like gender and race/ethnicity could reduce team performance and integration. The members of the team could be less affected by potentially discordant demographic dissimilarities when the face-to-face contact is reduced. Diversity in teams can be improved though electronic collaboration, which could improve the overall integration in the team. Still, Ryan (2012) mentioned that understanding teamwork diversity in organisations needs deliberation of the relationship between gender, kinship, teams, and ethnicity. This definitely questions the assumptions that exist regarding the role played by teams in normative integration.

The level of virtuality is a multifaceted multidimensional construct that involves different dimensions. For instance, time proportion can be considered as a virtuality dimension where members of the team work face-to-face in contrast to working virtually. Sometimes, the team members could work just a few hours for one month on a project, while dedicating most time to activities not associated with the teamwork or project.

Evidently, improved teamwork can result in enhanced customer service, but this is merely half of what is required to assess the effectiveness of teamwork and teams in the organisations. The team leaders have to examine the costs of putting organisational designs into practice. Many teams experience difficulty in allocating monetary values to overheads which cannot be quantified easily. Such overheads could include opportunity costs related to team’s internal resources that could help the organisation improve customer service.


There are scores of elements involved in teamwork introductions process. Managing such elements poorly can lead to negative teamwork experiences; thus, disheartening people from participating in teams continuously. Furthermore, negative experiences in a team generate rigid and unhelpful attitude toward teamwork.

More importantly, organisations should not force employees to value the opinions of others, but should ensure that they treat customers with respect. When members of the team have negative attitude toward other members due to their culture, there will be decrees in productivity.

Therefore, organisations should promote activities which could enable the teams collaborate effectively. Such activities may include workshops with exercises such as team-building intended for improving communication, problem solving, decision making.


A number of employees are forced to improve their performance for the sake of the team, but some of them resist. In addition, when employees are denied performance bonuses they are inclined to perform poorly.

Most of the team members participate in peer influence, with the objective of benefit the team without regard for managerial goals. In addition, when the team members’ responsibilities are extended it results in peer pressure and managerial conceptions internalisation of suitable norms.

In the call centres, as observed by Broek et al. (2004), most teams lack the mechanisms and processes of self-governance which fortify normative integration.

Clearly, issues such as customer service, diversity and virtuality make it challenging for employees and organisations to maximise the benefits of teams and teamwork. For this reason, it is imperative to conceptualise teamwork as well as the associated problems when starting new projects. There is another issues associated with teams and team working, the members could become unhelpful or may have rigid attitudes.

Manifestly, teamwork development process is extremely complex and when poorly managed it result in negative attitude amongst the team members. Another issue that could challenge employees and organisations in maximising the benefits of teams and teamwork is the issue teams with no ‘freedoms as well as responsibilities.

Evidently, teams cannot be successful without responsibilities and freedoms. Forcing team members to perform can likely add more constraints to teams’ development.


Broek, D.v.d., Callaghan, G. & Thompson, P., 2004. Teams without Teamwork? Explaining the Call Centre Paradox. Economic and Industrial Democracy, vol. 25, no . 2, pp.197–218.

Mallon, M. & Kearney, T., 2001. Team development at Fisher and Paykel: The introduction of ’Everyday Workplace Teams’. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, vol. 39, no . 1, pp.93-106.

Marks, A. & Richards, J., 2012. Developing ideas and concepts in teamwork research:Where do we go from here? Employee Relations, vol. 34, no. 3, pp.228-34.

Ryan, S., 2012. When is a team a team? “Teamworking” and the reorganisation of work in commercial cleaning. Employee Relations, vol. 34, no. 3, pp.255-70.

Townsend, K., 2007. Who Has Control in Teams without Teamworking? Economic and Industrial Democracy, vol. 28, no. 4, pp.622–49.