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Team Building Turning Groups Into Teams Disscussion

Team Building Turning Groups Into Teams Disscussion


Based on what you learned in the Learning Activity “Groups and Teams,” how would you turn a group into a team? Provide suggestions from the reading to support your ideas. Do formal or informal work groups work better? Use examples from the reading to strengthen your argument. Now, consider the last time you were part of a team. Which of the key characteristics of teams listed in the reading were present in your team and which were lacking? Please explain.

Groups and Teams


How are groups and teams different from each other? Read this section to learn how groups and teams function differently, and the defining characteristics of each. Have you ever been part of a team that functioned more as a group, or vice versa? Record your thoughts in your Learning Journal so that you may reflect upon them in preparation for completing your Final Assessment.

Differences Between Groups and Teams

Organizations consist of groups of people. What exactly is the difference between a group and a team? A group is a collection of individuals. Within an organization, groups might consist of project-related groups, such as a product group or division, or they can encompass an entire store or branch of a company. The performance of a group consists of the inputs of the group minus any process losses, such as the quality of a product, ramp-up time to production, or the sales for a given month. Process loss is any aspect of group interaction that inhibits group functioning.

What is the difference between a group and a team? A collection of people is not a team, though they may learn to function in that way. A team is a particular type of group: a cohesive coalition of people working together to achieve mutual goals. Being on a team does not equate to a total suppression of personal agendas, but it does require a commitment to a shared vision and involves each individual working toward accomplishing the team’s objective. Teams differ from other types of groups in that members are focused on a joint goal or product, such as a presentation, discussing a topic, writing a report, creating a new design or prototype, or winning a team Olympic medal. Moreover, teams also tend to be defined by their relatively smaller size. For instance, according to one definition, “A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they are mutually accountable” (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993).

“A group,” suggests Bonnie Edelstein, a consultant in organizational development, “is a bunch of people in an elevator. A team is also a bunch of people in an elevator, but the elevator is broken.” This distinction may be a little oversimplified, but a team is clearly something more than a mere group of individuals. In particular, members of a group—or, more accurately, a working group—go about their jobs independently and meet primarily to share information. A group of department-store managers, for example, might meet monthly to discuss their progress in cutting plant costs, but each manager is focused on the goals of his or her department because each is held accountable for meeting only those goals.

In organizations, you may encounter different types of groups. Informal work groups are made up of two or more individuals who are associated with one another in ways not prescribed by the formal organization. For example, a few people in the company who get together to play tennis on the weekend would be considered an informal group. A formal work group is made up of managers, subordinates, or both—with close associations among group members that influence the behavior of individuals in the group.

Teams, by contrast, are responsible for achieving specific common goals, and they’re generally empowered to make the decisions needed to complete their authorized tasks.

The purpose of assembling a team is to accomplish larger, more complex goals than what would be possible for an individual working alone or even the simple sum of several individuals working independently. Teamwork is also needed in cases where multiple skills are tapped or where buy-in is required from several individuals. Teams can, but do not always, provide improved performance. Working together to further a team agenda seems to increase mutual cooperation between what are often competing factions. The aim and purpose of a team is to perform, get results, and achieve victory in the workplace. The best managers are those who can gather together a group of individuals and mold them into an effective team.

Michael Phelps and teammates holding gold medals. Teams are only as strong as their weakest link. While Michael Phelps is widely considered the world’s greatest swimmer and received a great deal of personal attention, he could not have achieved his record eight gold medals in a single Olympics and 18 total gold medals without the combined efforts of his teammates in relay events during the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympic Games.File:Michael Phelps Ryan Lochte Laszlo Cseh medals 2008 Olympics

The key properties of a true team include collaborative action where, along with a common goal, teams have collaborative tasks. Conversely, in a group, individuals are responsible only for their own area. They also share the rewards of strong team performance with their compensation based on shared outcomes. Compensation of individuals must be based primarily on a shared outcome, not individual performance. Members are also willing to sacrifice for the common good in which individuals give up scarce resources instead of competing for those resources. For example, teams occur in sports, such as soccer and basketball, in which the individuals actively help each other, forgo their own chance to score by passing the ball, and win or lose collectively as a team.

Some Key Characteristics of Teams

To keep matters in perspective, it helps to identify five key characteristics of work teams (Thompson, 2008; Alderfer, 2007):

  1. Teams are accountable for achieving specific common goals. Members are collectively responsible for achieving team goals and, if they succeed, they’re rewarded collectively.
  2. Teams function interdependently. Members cannot achieve goals independently and must rely on each other for information, input, and expertise.
  3. Teams are stable. Teams remain intact long enough to finish their assigned tasks, and each member remains on board long enough to get to know every other member.
  4. Teams have authority. Teams possess the decision-making power to pursue their goals and to manage the activities through which they complete their assignments.
  5. Teams operate in a social context. Teams are assembled to do specific work for larger organizations and have the advantage of access to resources available from other areas of their organizations.

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