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Groups, Mobs & Teams in Organizations

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  • 0:04 Managing Cooperative Efforts
  • 0:53 Groups
  • 1:54 Mobs
  • 3:08 Teams
  • 5:14 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sherri Hartzell

Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.

Why do some organizations work together better than others? It turns out that not all groups are teams, and not all teams are groups. This lesson explains the different categories of employees found in organizations, including groups, mobs, and teams.

Managing Cooperative Efforts

As a manager, it is your job to assess, develop, and support cooperative efforts among the individuals you manage. By holding a leadership position, you are assumed to have all of the authority, influence, and power that you need in order to make that happen, but are you really in charge? If so, then why is the process of creating effective teams so challenging for some managers? The simple answer to this question lies in the complex characteristics of a truly effective work team, many of which can be confusing to the untrained eye. This lesson will discuss the three categories of employees of which managers ought to be aware, including groups, mobs, and teams.

Groups

A group is a collection of two or more people who interact with one another but have no unified purpose. The group is the most common assortment of individuals in an organization; however, without a common purpose and commitment to group success, this group will never become a team. Many people take for granted the cohesion that occurs in teams and assume factors such as proximity, communication, and social exchanges will inevitably allow an effective team to emerge. To the contrary, for a group to become a team it must in fact have that common purpose, shared vision, and commitment to group and organizational success. Members of a team work hard to achieve organizational goals, often times going above and beyond what is expected of them. Group members uphold the status quo, but not enough to make a significant difference.

Mobs

Mobs have a negative purpose within an organization
Mob Example

A mob is a collection of two or more people who interact with one another, but unlike a group, mobs do have a unified, negative purpose. Mob members are calculated, purposeful, and unified in their efforts. Activities of mobs are typically aimed at changing, challenging, or sabotaging the traditional order of things within an organization. Mobs will rationalize their disruptive and vicious methods by creating the belief that their actions are the solution to mob members' problems.

For example, a group of employees might form a mob to protest a policy that limits the amount of time they are allowed to leave their desks to use the restroom. The mob believes the policy is unfair and needs to be changed, but because more peaceful methods of trying to get the policy changed have not worked, the mob decides to chain themselves to the bathroom stalls, preventing management from using the facilities when they need to during the course of the workday. The mob believes their actions are justified even though they are clearly disruptive.

Teams

A team is a collection of two or more people who interact with one another for a common, positive purpose. Teams are made of individuals whose collective competence and experience is greater than any one individual can offer.

As previously mentioned, however, teams are not easily formed because they must be planned, supported, and led. Building an effective team requires a leader who can foster an environment where members can interact regularly, coordinate work efforts, engage in healthy conflict, and analyze relationships between team members. The main difference between groups and teams is the manner in which work gets done. Group members act as individuals in their efforts, accountability, and leadership; team members act as a cohesive unit whereby they share work responsibilities, create mutual accountability for results, and divide up leadership roles.

Importance difference between groups and teams
Group Members Vs. Team Members

For example, when a group is given an assignment to increase sales for their division, each individual will create their own method of doing so and carry it out without consultation or direction from management. Group members will maintain a sink-or-swim approach, holding themselves accountable for their decisions and actions that contribute to their success or failure. Conversely, when a team is given that same assignment to increase sales for their division, they will take a much more cooperative approach. Time will be spent collectively brainstorming ways to increase sales until a consensus on the best method is reached. Once the team knows what they need to do, they will begin to break up responsibilities among team members, allowing each member to work on one task that will work towards reaching the communal goal of increasing sales. The team will also share in accountability as to whether or not their goal is achieved.

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