Jobs and the Future of Work

Why focusing on teams, not just leaders is the key to business performance

A team attend a production meeting at their office. Image: REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Emma Luxton
Senior Writer , Forum Agenda
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Future of Work

If you’re trying to improve your company’s performance by focusing solely on leadership, you might want to rethink your approach.

A study on the global human trends in business from Deloitte found that the organizational structure of businesses is changing, and teams are becoming increasingly important.

Surveying over 7,000 companies in more than 130 countries, the research shows that the top issue on the mind of leaders is organizational design.

 The 10 trends most important to business leaders
Image: Deloitte

Leaders are looking to shift the structure of their business away from the traditional functional model towards interconnected, flexible teams.

The report says the growth of the millennial demographic, increased diversity of global teams, and the need to innovate and work more closely with customers is driving the desire for organizational flexibility.

Almost half of the organizations surveyed were currently in the middle of restructuring to focus on building and empowering teams that can work across projects and challenges.

“In some ways, businesses are becoming more like Hollywood movie production teams and less like traditional corporations, with people coming together to tackle projects, then disbanding and moving on to new assignments once the project is complete,” the report says.

1. Shared values and culture

The growth of more teams spread across the world and in closer contact with customers means guidelines are needed. Shared values help team members decide how to act and make decisions.

Communication of this shared vision and values system should come from senior leaders, who can empower teams and deliver results.

2. Transparent goals and projects

Teams often work with other teams, and for this to work goals and objectives need to be clearly set out and communicated.

People should also be aware of the projects being undertaken by other teams and the overall financial objectives of the company.

3. Feedback and free flow of information

Leaders should communicate to teams what is and isn’t working, and what problems need to be addressed. While team leaders should take responsibility for errors, this information needs to be shared across the company so others know what problems are occurring, allowing them to better support the team.

The report suggests setting up a real-time information network: “A successful network brings together disparate information on customers or products to give team members integrated data on performance in real time.”

4. Reward skills and contribution, not position

Companies should reward people for project results, collaboration, and helping others rather than focusing solely on individual performance or praising leaders simply because of their title or role.

Career progression should be based on skills, alignment with company values, followership, and contribution to the company.

This new organizational model is forcing companies to rethink job roles and descriptions and internal mobility of employees. As well as emphasizing skills and learning as the keys to good performance, and redesigning how employees are rewarded.

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Jobs and the Future of WorkLeadership
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