Teams accomplish great things – they win World Cups and Olympic Games – and are just as effective in the workplace. But how do you know if need to have a team or if you should go it alone?

Just as an effective sports team needs good defenders and offensive players, a business team needs a combination of abilities and perspectives to be effective. Teams are great for complex tasks, especially those that require cross-functional duties, affect many parts of an organization, or address controversial organizational change.

Teams are also great for innovation. “Teams are excellent vehicles for addressing thorny business problems because they create a climate in which different opinions and viewpoints rub against one another,” says CCL’s Kim Kanaga notes. “This leads to creative perspectives that outpace what any individual might otherwise achieve.”

But not all tasks require a team. In fact, a team created by default, and not out of true need, can slow progress down and waste others’ valuable time. Not sure whether a team is the best structure to accomplish your goals? Ask these six questions:

  1. Is the task complex and multidimensional?
  2. Are there significant barriers and problems to successfully completing the task?
  3. Are the resources – information, knowledge and skills – required to complete the task readily available?
  4. Does the task require the efforts of several people who have different expertise and skill?
  5. Is diversity of thought and opinion important to the successful completion of the task?
  6. Is building relationships with or gaining the support of stakeholders, customers, departments, and/or top management critical to the task?

If you’ve answered yes to most of these questions, it’s time to start thinking about your lineup.

What other factors do you consider before forming a team?

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