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.
Group and Team Examples
To help you better comprehend the differences between these two similarities (groups and teams), I wanted to give you an example of each.
Jason belongs to a team at his company. His team consists of three other members, each with a different focus area (engineering, production, etc). The owner of his company has directed them to find a way to produce the AV4000 - a new television that floats in midair - in a more cost-effective manner. He has given Jason and his team (Sharon the engineer, Carlos the production manager, and Otis, who is in charge of procurement) two months to develop a process that will save the company time in production and also lower the production costs. You see, Jason and his team members are all employees of the company and have a vested interest in developing and delivering what their boss asked them to deliver. They will be judged on their results and have a specific time frame to get the work done to the satisfaction of their boss.
Once again, the differences between work teams and work groups are subtle, but there are differences nonetheless. 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. Thus, we can surmise that teams are more cohesive, with more interaction and interreliance than a group. Individuals in these teams and groups still have to work together, but the mutual accountability and interaction is what is different.
After watching this lesson, you should be able to distinguish between groups and teams in the workplace.