Teams don’t live in a vacuum. Every team is an intersection of boundaries of all sorts of organizations. Organizations facilitate teams to a greater or lesser extent. In the workplace, the employer’s organization will have the most significant impact on how teams form and perform but it is not the totality. Other influences can affect the structure and performance of teams. In the short run, many organizational factors are difficult and slow to change (not impossible).  Many of the behavior factors noted earlier in this thread might be an affectation of the organization. A few of the most critical attributes to consider are:

Does the organization have clear goals that are translated into team performance expectations? 

  • Individuals can self-organize and motivate but teams require some form of external direction to be motivated. 

Does the organization support team performance?  

  • Support includes things like the availability of conference rooms or the right software for distributed teams. Good logistics and standards don’t just magically happen the organization needs to spend the time and effort to make them seamless. 

Do HR policies foster teamwork or individualism?

  • How people and teams are recognized and incented will have a pervasive impact on behavior within teams. One of the most common jokes I hear boils down to the punchline, I just have to run faster than you. 

 Are leaders trained in leadership skills?

  • First-line and middle management are often promoted from being individual contributors, without receiving leadership and management training. There are numerous areas of training needed ranging from facilitation and negotiation to different forms of leadership. First-line leaders such as team leads and Scrum Masters get better results when they act as servant leaders (enable the team) however, servant leadership is generally not a leadership style they know. Without training, new leaders will leverage the styles learned by osmosis. 

Organizations can influence the effectiveness of teams through action and inaction. I asked several connections on LinkedIn how organizations can impact the effectiveness of teams. Sanjay Shah, Principal at ERP Associates, stated “teams need quality time to produce quality deliverables.” Quality time means creating space for heads-down work (e.g meeting-free times, allowing people to block their calendar.  Tony Timbol, Founder of, put it succinctly, “Trust them. Trust means teams are empowered and are listened to.“ Elizabeth-Anne Marinakis, of ABSA Group, urged “Communication at all levels.” Organizations have responsibilities and obligations if they are using teams to get work done. When assessing how to help teams improve (and there is no ceiling on excellence) you need to understand how to help the overall organization help their teams.