What makes a team effective or ineffective

Parker, G. M. (2006). What Makes a Team Effective or Ineffective. Dans Senge, Schein, Beckhard, Mirvis, Burke, Argyris, et al., Organization Development (pp. 656-680). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Reader.

Effective Team

Team players are an essential part of each of the 12 dimensions.

Clear sense of purpose

Why it exists and what it should be doing at the end of the day, quarter, year.

Creating a shared vision is a possibility.

Informal Climate

Informal, comfortable and relaxed. No obvious signs of boredom or tension.

Members look forward to meetings as “enjoyable” and “fun”.


From everyone.

The quality and impact, not the quantity.


Usually more lip service than action.

Civilized Disagreement

Differences must be expressed to reach compromises, solve problems and generally keep moving forward.


The use of the consensus method for making key decisions if:

  • There is no clear answer
  • There is no single expert in the group
  • Commitment to the decision is essential
  • Sufficient time is available

Open Communication

Trust is the avenue to clear communication

Clear Roles and Work Assignments

Beyond listing of tasks to the expectations of the member about his job and the expectations of other members about that job.

Shared Leadership

Over the long run, a team will not be successful if the leader carries the sole responsibility for ensuring that the team reaches its goals. Leadership must be shared among team members.

The team must succeed or fail as a team. Without the convenience of having someone to blame.

The formal leader is sometime unaware of unable to exercise the required leadership function at the time it is needed.

The formal leader may have certain administrative, legal and bureaucratic responsibilities, but leadership functions shift among members depending on the needs of the group and the skills of the members.

Task responsibilities

Actions that help the team reach its goal, accomplish an immediate task, make a decision, or solve a problem.

Process responsibilities

How we go about accomplishing our task. The interpersonal glue that helps maintain or exploit our team resources.

Teams are often less process oriented, as traditional training stresses axioms such as “The end justifies the mean” and “Winning is everything.”

Effective teams know the quality of their decisions is impacted by the manner in which they make their judgment.

External Relations

The role of the “invisible team”, the customers, clients, users and sponsors.

Resources of customers and clients are important indicators of success.

Sponsors often increase the life of a team and provide access to needed resources.

Multidisciplinary teams need the cooperation of the functional departments from which team members are drawn.

Style Diversity

Style diversity is necessary to the success of the team.

Team composition is a determinant of success that is often overlooked, the group dynamics and leadership skills often overshadowing it.

Self Assessment

Stopping to evaluate the progress is necessary, be it formal or informal.

Ineffective team

  • You cannot easily describe the team’s mission
  • The meetings are formal, stuffy, or tense
  • There is a great deal of participation, but little accomplishment
  • There is talk but not much communication
  • Disagreements are aired in private conversations after the meeting
  • Decisions tend to be made by the formal leader with little meaningful involvement of other team members
  • Members are not open with each other because trust is low
  • There is confusion or disagreement about roles or work assignments
  • People in other parts of the organization who are critical to the success of the team are not cooperating
  • The team is overloaded with people who have the same team-player style
  • The team has been in existence for at least three months and has never assessed its functioning
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