The Difference Between Groups and Teams: Definition & Contrasts

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  • 0:06 Groups vs Teams
  • 1:10 Work Groups & Work Teams
  • 2:23 Examples
  • 3:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rob Wengrzyn

Rob has an MBA in management, a BS in marketing, and is a doctoral candidate in organizational theory and design.

Although subtle, there are differences between groups and teams. These are typically the reason the group or team was assembled and the goal they are trying to obtain. In this lesson, we will address the differences between groups and teams.

Groups Versus Teams

The words 'group' and 'team' are, for the most part, interchangeable - at least most people use them that way. But there are distinct differences between groups and teams. For example, we have a football team, not a football group - or we have a special interest group, not a special interest team. While the differences are subtle, they are indeed different, and we need to understand what those differences are.

The main difference is that a team's strength or focus depends on the commonality of their purpose and how the individuals are connected to one another. On the other hand, a group can come from having a large number of people or a cohesive willingness to carry out a focused action - political reform, for example.

While these differences might be subtle, we have to understand that a group is a number of individuals forming a unit for a reason or cause, and a team is a collection of accomplished people coming together for a common goal that needs completion. The subtleness of these differences are more pronounced when we take these words a step further and look at a work group and work team.

Work Groups and Work Teams

In the business world, we have work groups and work teams. A work team has members who work interdependently on a specific, common goal to produce an end result for their business. A work group is two or more individuals who are interdependent in their accomplishments and may or may not work in the same department. Once again, the differences are subtle, but the main thread is a team works together and shares in the outcome, while a group is more independent of each other.

Additional aspects of work groups and teams are:

Work Team Work Group
The leader acts as a facilitator. The leader dominates and controls the group.
The members have active participation in the discussions and eventual outcome. The leader is apparent and will conduct the meeting.
The team members decide on the disbursements of work assignments. The leader usually assigns work to the members.

So, as we can see, a work team is much more formal, with a focused goal and objective, while also having its members take a participative role in how the work team functions. On the other end of the scale, we have work groups who work more independently of each other and usually have one leader directing work flow.

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