Difference between Work Groups and Work Teams

Posted: August 29th, 2013

Difference between Work Groups and Work Teams


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Difference between Work Groups and Work Teams


            While reviewing the differences between work groups and work teams, the primary areas of disparity are size, leadership, goals, operation of tasks and evaluation. Typically, a group is more than two members who have a distinct leader while they perform independent actions driven by individual objectives and have personal evaluation or accountability. On the other hand, a team is two or more members who have shared leadership while performing interdependent tasks driven by shared goals and are subject to both personal and team evaluation or accountability. Groups have the tendency to form naturally or informally and resultant actions can range from dramatic, chaotic to success but are more successful when they are transformed to dynamic units known as teams (Schermerhorn et al. 47).

Discussion: Differences between Work Teams and Work Groups

            The first difference is the atmosphere where members of a group hold the perspective they are together for administrative purposes only and are to work independently at times at cross-purpose and competition with each other. Conversely, team members are aware of interdependency where personal as well as team goals are best attained through mutual support. Time and other resources are optimized since the possibility of endeavoring personal gain at the expense of others is reduced. Focus is shifted from administration to operational success (Schermerhorn 175).

Additionally, group members are likely to focus on personal objectives since they are not comprehensively involved in setting group goals and tend to have a “hired hand” approach to group tasks. On the hand, teams are characterized by greater devotion or commitment since the members aided the establishment of team objectives. There is a greater sense of ownership of objectives and goals in teams as compared to groups.

Groups exemplify less forums nurturing discussion, suggestions or even brainstorming given group leaders are vested with the mandate. Consequently, diverse talent and knowledge is under utilized. On the contrary, teams are characterized by application of distinctive talent and knowledge possessed by the team members to attain team objectives. Ultimately, team members are more likely to be fulfilled from performing task than group members.

Groupthink is likely in groups than in teams where an atmosphere of discussion is more developed. Conflict is prevalent in groups given members are not in full comprehension of other member’s roles. However, conflict is considered divisive and is avoided in groups thus increasing the probability of groupthink. Teams are characterized by well-articulated member roles thus reducing possibility of distrust and conflict of purposes. With member suggestions, contributions and queries welcome, teams foster an atmosphere of trust better than groups.

Clarity of communication channels is another difference where due to size and vague roles, communication channels are less developed in groups. in opposition, team are likely to have clear and functional communication channels given the roles are clearly defined as well as team objectives articulately laid out. The interdependency in teams makes communication of great importance as opposed to groups where members seclude themselves in independency (Schermerhorn et al. 159).

Work teams are more likely to receive and apply training with support from the team whereas groups maybe trained but application of the skills is restricted by supervisors or group members. Consequently trained teams are likely to develop and apply the skills learn since they are supported by the team. Teams provide a forum where skills are components in an organizational synergy thus are optimized. Group members with skills are denied full application by vague roles and conflicting individual purposes.

Means of resolving conflicts are better defined in teams than groups where group supervisors have an arbitrator’s role. Subsequently, intervention during conflicts can be delayed in groups due to unclear resolution approaches. The team spirit on the other hand is likely to handle conflicts better by viewing them as opportunities for new ideas or creativity (Schermerhorn 173). Additionally, conflicts resolution is faster and constructive in team as compared to groups.

Groups have the tendency to have short-term goals blurring long-term goals given little or no thought is given to the benefits of reorganizing the members to form teams that enhance individual contributions while ascertaining greater future results. Conversely, teams are epitomized by the ability to have visionary on what can be attained as team in the future taking current goals in stride. The team members share the vision and align to act accordingly. With established roles and interdependency links, social loafing is discourage since there are both individual and team accountability.



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