Difference Between a Team and a Group

The terms team and group are often used interchangeably in management subjects, but there are some differences between these two concepts. A group is a collection of individuals who coordinate their individual efforts. On the other hand, at team is a group of people who share a common team purpose and a number of challenging goals.

The notable difference between a team and a group is that:

  1. A group may be formal or informal where as a team is necessarily formal.
  2. A group may or may not have a common goal to work towards but a team efforts are clustered towards the attainment of organizational objectives.
  3. A group can be organizational or social. A team is mostly organizational.

A group is an aggregate of persons with close inter relationships. A group is a cluster of two or more individuals who interact with each other on a relatively enduring basis, identify themselves as belonging to a distinct unit and who share certain common activities, interest, values and goals. Members of a group relate to one another in some common ways and united by some common ties on a sustained basis. A group is different from a crowd which has no structure and performs no specific function. The members of a group interact with one another to jointly pursue common goals. An organization consists of several types of groups. Every member of the organization belongs to one or more groups.

A work group is a group that interacts primarily to share information and to make decisions to help each member perform with in his or her area of responsibility. Work groups have no need or opportunity to engage in collective work that requires joint effort. So their performance is merely the summarization of each group member’s individual contribution. There is no positive synergy that would create an overall level of performance greater than the sum of the inputs.

A team generates positive synergy through coordinated effort. Their individual effort result in a level of performance that is greater than the sum of those individual inputs. The extensive use of teams creates the potential for an organization to generate greater outputs with no increase in inputs. Nothing inherently magical in the creation of team assures the achievement of positive synergy. Merely calling a group teams does not automatically increase its performance. If management hopes to gain increase in organization performance through use of teams it well need to ensure that their team possess these characteristics. Team building is an attempt to assist the work group in becoming adapted by learning how to identify, diagnose and solve its own problems. Team building is one of the powerful and well accepted techniques of organizational development. A team can be considered as a number of people organized around a set of objectives. Many organizations are involved with the introduction of team work. In a typical team building program employees belonging to same work group discuss the problems relating to their task performance. Members provide information about their individual perceptions of the problem. Having diagnosed the problem, action plans are formulated and implemented to overcome the difficulties. In the final or concluding sessions impact of the plans is assessed.

Work teams are formal groups made up of interdependent individuals, responsible for attaining goals. Organizations are increasingly designing work around teams rather than individuals. All work teams are groups, but only formal groups can be work teams.

Conclusion: Groups are powerful in changing the behavior, attitudes, values and in disciplining members. Groups can also be used for decision making, negotiating and bargaining. Groups also influence communication patterns. One can hardly consider a number of people as a team when each member communicates only with the boss. Effective group interactions also effect motivation. A group concept helps in understanding the interactions between leaders and followers as well as among all group members. Team work towards a goal under a leader. Therefore for organizational effectiveness both groups and teams are required.

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