What to know before you ditch the traditional top-down structure and go all in on teams. 

Group configurations are officially the new buzzworthy concept. In a 2019 survey, Deloitte reported nearly a third – 31 percent – of all businesses surveyed followed a team-based structure, rather than a hierarchical one. And with good reason too! According to the experts, team-based culture can bring greater communication, efficiency, flexibility, innovation, motivation, and, well… teamwork! And Deloitte’s survey-takers seem to agree. Their data says 53% of the companies with team-based structures reported a significant improvement in performance following the transition. 

This all seems win-win right? How hard or how easy it is to switch, in practice, will depend on a lot of factors. The size of your business and the way you currently work play a huge role. But if you’re seriously considering restructuring to teams, here are a few factors to consider from the outset:  

Putting the ‘team’ into team-based structure 

As you’re restructuring, it may seem natural to let the manager decide which employees belong on which team, based on their strengths and skills. But how about letting your team in on the decision-making process? A Gallup study of 11,441 teams across six organizations found employees are actually very adept at gaging both their own and one another’s strengths. Bringing their input to the task could make for greater engagement and greater performance in the final team structures produced. The result is a win for everyone. You get well-designed teams built and staffed by employees who buy in to the concept. Your team now has developed a newfound ownership over the roles they play in their team. 

Your communication channels need to change to accommodate a team-based setup 

When you think about it, this is obvious really. Once you’ve switched from a top-down to a teams structure, you just can’t communicate in the same way. There are multiple teams operating independently – this makes it a greater challenge to keep everyone in the loop. You therefore must review your communication channels, alongside the new structure, to ensure that your new teams have everything they need to come together to form one giant super-team that is working toward your company-wide goals. 

More than 80 percent of employees said in a Quantum Workplace and Fierce Conversations survey that miscommunication occurs very frequently in their organization. Group conversations and meetings were singled out as one of the most likely causes. Establishing specific channels and touchpoints for groups to communicate could help ensure information is disseminated. Our blog posts on the best way to communicate with employees and communication missteps you may be making offer additional thoughts on improving communication with an organization. 

Work distribution within teams can vary 

As a 2016 Harvard Business Review article noted, women can tend to end up with a larger share of the work in collaborative team-oriented environments, potentially causing them to experience greater emotional exhaustion than men and opening the door for eventual workplace issues. It’s crucial that your managers are aware that this can be an issue — and are regularly watching for signs that work is not being distributed evenly within groups — in order to prevent the situation from occurring. 

As with any major structural change, companies need to carefully plan to establish a team-oriented environment. For tips on transitioning to team structures in the workplace, read our post on making change management second nature. 

For more thoughts on managing employees, view our blog posts on how to motivate different generations in the workplace, making remote employees feel connected, transforming talent management with people analytics and three ways to prevent workplace conflict.