What Type of Team do You Have?

November 19, 2021

by Management Dynamics

What Type of Team do You Have?

We are all members of more than one team. First, we have the team we manage, and then there’s the team we are a part of with our manager.  Then we might also be a part of several project teams. Or maybe even a matrix team with a dotted line to a central function or a different manager.  In short, it can be complicated!
It’s important to think about how we interact in all of these teams. Our role and the way that team is set up and functions may be very different from another team we are part of.

Simple Teams

There are two types of teams: we have what we call simple teams and then we have complex teams.  Simple teams are a group of people who all report to the same manager but don’t have much interaction with each other on a day-to-day basis.  They might do the same job, but they can do that job without much involvement from their team members. In other words, they’re fairly independent.

Sales teams are often in this category. You have a collection of salespeople, all trying to win work, but they do this pretty much on their own.  This is a simple team.  They don’t rely on each other at all to hit their targets. In fact, they are completely self-sufficient.  In these types of teams, the relationships don’t need a huge amount of work. They need just enough to help people get along when working alongside each other, to feel a sense of belonging, to be able to manage conflicts and to learn from each other how to get better at their jobs.

Complex Teams

Complex teams also all report to the same manager, but the key difference here is that they are interdependent on each other to achieve their goals.  This interdependence is essential to the success of a complex team.

In complex teams, everyone relies on one another in the team to do things so they can achieve their objectives. If one link in the chain fails, everybody fails.

Usually, this type of interdependence is only possible in relatively small teams of no more than about 6 people. It means that relationships must be great – these types of teams need to know and trust each other very well to achieve high performance.  They need great routines which enable collaboration and consultation.  They need a strong link to the reason, which is what will bind them together in tough times and they need a laser like focus on results to ensure that they stay on track.  Complex teams require a big investment in all these things to really reach high performance.

Complex teams generate untapped potential

In many cases there is interdependence, but in an informal sense. And often this is to other parts of the organisation, which when tapped into can create really high performance.


Let’s return to that sales team I mentioned earlier to demonstrate this. A salesperson might work with the customer service team to understand what issues customers are facing after the sale has been made and consider how to overcome that in the sales process. They might also be working with the finance team to optimise pricing and promotion structures.  They might be working with the technical team to understand how a particular potential customer’s issues can be overcome prior to the sale being completed.  These are all examples of interdependence and opportunities to increase the potential of the team and raising the bar in terms of what high performance could be for that team. And this is worth investing in.


So, what type of team do you have?


Whichever type of team you have, contact us to find out how we can help you and your team reach high performance.

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Whether you are looking for some expert perspective into your organisation, want to elevate your team performance but don’t know where to start, or want to know what we had for breakfast – get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

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