It seems as though any group of individuals in today's workforce that is connected by even the smallest thread is referred to as a "team," even if the only thing the group members share is physical location or the same supervisor. But you can't simply gather a group of individuals in a common location, refer to them as a "team," and expect phenomenal results. It takes time, effort, and most of all, dedication from all involved parties. Here are some of the characteristic differences between teams and groups:
Research highlights three broad categories of behavior that separate teams from groups:
| Teams|| Groups|
|Individual and team accountability||Individual accountability|
|Members work together to produce results||Results are produced by individual efforts|
|Team purposes||Individual purposes|
|Shared resources, results, and rewards||Individual results and rewards|
|Shared information||Limited information|
|Team controlled||Manager controlled|
|Broad understanding of overall tasks||Narrow understanding of specific tasks|
|Multi-skilled members||Single-skilled workers|
One of the reasons to use a team is to capitalize on the energy and diversity that its members bring to a project. The effectiveness of groups of individuals working together differs. Because they do not have the opportunity to draw from the ideas and resources of other group members, the combined efforts of the group are no better than the separate efforts of its individual members.
Communication / Information Flow
In a group atmosphere, a great deal of time can be lost in handing off a project to the next individual in the path toward completion. Catching group members up on project status, miscommunications, and inefficient time management are among some of the issues that affect productivity and results. The communication in a team environment, however, is more fluid. Discussions often spark creative ideas. It is easier to seek clarification, and team members benefit from the additional information pertaining to team projects.
The way goals are handled is different between groups and teams. In a group environment, individuals may attempt to become experts at their specific responsibility or task, assuming results will follow if the rest of the group does the same. In most cases, the results that follow may in fact be improvements, but they are typically incremental. True teams maintain their focus on overall team goals that are developed and agreed upon by all team members. This contributes to more effective work flow because individuals understand not only what their team members require, but why.