In business, ‘groups’ and ‘teams’ are not one and the same. As it can often be difficult to distinguish between the two, management should define and clarify the difference.
A ‘work group’ interacts primarily to share information and make decisions to help each member perform within their area of responsibility.
The performance of the work group is merely a summation of each group member’s individual contribution.
A ‘work team’ generates positive synergy through a co-ordinated effort. All these individual efforts result in a product or service greater than the sum of the individual inputs. Work teams get a great degree of individual commitment towards the common goal. Individuals want to be identified with the team.
As management seeks positive synergy in their organisation to increase performance, the extensive use of teams will potentially create a greater degree of output with no increase in inputs however the benefits of using teams must exceed the costs.
There are three tests to be used to see if a team is more effective:
- Can the work be done better by more than one person? Simple tasks may best be left to an individual whereas complex work can be achieved using the team’s combined skills.
- Does a collective approach ensure a greater level of achievement? For example can teams working together achieve greater customer service?
- Do teams fit the situation? Teams make sense when the tasks are interdependent. For example linking customer services personnel with sales reps or mechanics in a new car service department.
Source: Robbins, Millet, Cacioppe, Waters-Marsh