Teams versus Groups

What?

            What is the difference between a group and a team? The differences lie in power, leadership, decision making, and activities. The difference in power depends on the hierarchy, in a team the power lies all around the team while in a group there is one manager. Similarly, leadership in a team is distributed, while in a group the leadership is mainly concentrated towards one person. Decision making separates between authoritarian versus consultative and democratic. Many organizations are moving towards diverting their employees into teams, rather than groups. Activities or tasks in a group are independent, meaning that each member does a small part of the whole. In a team, those activities are coordinated by the leader, and the members work interdependently.

So What?

            Research shows that teamwork increased by 85% in the 1990s. Working in teams has been proven to be more effective in multiple ways. In a team, the members’ goal is to increase productivity and quality of the service. Teams are often smaller than groups in number, so it is easier to identify skills and characteristics of each individual member. Therefore, teams execute tasks faster, learn faster, and change more easily than more traditional work structures. They are able to operate in complex and dynamic environments. The difference between a group and a team is that in a group, individuals can fail or succeed, but in a team the entire team fails or succeeds. There is less stress on the individual and more stress on the team as a whole. Norman Shidle states that “A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of the others.”

Now What?

            Team leadership is being implemented within classrooms, clubs, and businesses. As students we are preparing for the transfer from the academic world to the business world. It will be important to take the team leadership concept and apply it to our surroundings. In this way, we will be able to enhance the workplace so that the next generation can use the existing system to keep the businesses running smoothly. Many organizations have not been exposed to the benefits of teams as opposed to groups and suffer as a result. It could be beneficial for us students to take the knowledge we learn in class and apply it to the existing systems that are in place. John Amatt claims that, A “team” is not just people who work at the same time in the same place. A real team is a group of very different individuals who share a commitment to working together to achieve common goals.”

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