When we use the terminologies, group and team, we mostly take these as synonyms of each other. Though both refers to the assemblage of two or more individuals, a team is a particular type of a group which is more focused towards the desired mutual goal with every member contributing in the best possible manner.
A group is an assemblage of individuals with common traits or situation; whereas a team is a structured and organized arrangement of a defined number of individuals. Team members are selected by their skills or expertise to aim at the desired team goal collectively.
Content: Difference Between Group and Team
- Difference and Comparison
- What is a Group?
- What is a Team?
- When does a group become a team?
Difference and Comparison
|Meaning||A group is made when independent individuals, having something in common, come together.||A team is that group of interdependent individuals, who join hands for the realization of a specific goal.|
|Accountability||Individual||Individual and mutual|
|Decision-Making Authority||Group members||Team leader|
|Individual Growth||Proper training but limited application||Skill development and application|
|Focus On||Individual goals||Team goals|
|Dependency||Independent members||Interdependent members|
|Specific Roles Assigned to Individuals||No||Yes|
|Interpersonal Understanding||Not necessary||Compulsory|
|Level of Trust||Low||High|
|Level of Commitment||Low||High|
|Synergy||Neutral or negative||Positive|
‘A group of candidates came for an interview. Out of these, two candidates were selected and were placed in the research team.’
In the above illustration, the candidates who came for an interview, neither knew each other nor have a common goal. Instead, they had similar but individual objectives.
Also, when the two selected candidates were placed in the research team; they were introduced to the other members of the team. They even came to know about everyone’s skills and strengths. Everyone in the team has a single goal or objective to accomplish.
What is a Group?
A group is the accumulation of three or more people who share a common purpose, interest, traits, characteristics or situation. The individuals in a group may or may not have interpersonal interactions.
Characteristics of a Group
A group posses certain features, which differentiate it from a team. Following are some of these:
- Individual Goals: Each of the members of a group is there to fulfil their objectives.
- Size and Composition: The size of a group can be small or large; however, it comprises of people having something in common.
- Independent Individuals: The members of a group are not reliant on one another for their actions.
- Individual Accountability: Everyone in a group is personally responsible for his or her actions.
- Status: The level to which the group is valued in the outer world, defines its status.
- Collective Identity: The individuals are together known to be a part of the particular group.
What is a Team?
A team is an organized and systematic group, comprising of individuals with competent skills and expertise, who gather for the attainment of a common objective, collaboratively. The team members work as a single unit and take up the responsibility of task completion mutually. Team building is a well-organised process, that requires proper nurturing of a workgroup.
Characteristics of a Team
A team arises out of a group. What special features do a team have?
Let us discuss some of the significant characteristics of a team that discriminates it from a group:
- Common Goal: The members work to achieve a particular team objective.
- Team spirit: The enthusiasm of the members to reach out the team goal is always high.
- Trust: In a team, individuals believe and rely on each other’s capabilities and skills.
- Leadership: There is a clear leadership within a team, and the selected team leader heads the activities.
- Mutual Accountability: Each individual is equally responsible for the underperformance and failure of the team.
- Interdependency: The actions of the members within a team are jointly dependent on that of other members.
- Defined Roles: Every individual in a team, has been allocated specific roles or responsibilities to accomplish.
- Streamline Direction: The team leader is the one who shows the way to the members and monitors their operations.
- Collaboration: There is a high degree of synergy or coordination among the team members.
Types of Groups
Groups can be deliberately made or unknowingly formed. When people happen to be in the same circumstances or situation, they are considered to be a part of one group.
Also, a group is essentially created to proceed with a given task and its timely execution. People collaborate to form various kinds of groups as mentioned below:
Some of the most common ones out of these are formal or informal, permanent or temporary and primary or secondary groups. To learn more about the above-mentioned classification of groups, you may refer to our next content on Types of Groups.
Types of Teams
Now, let us understand the various kinds of teams differentiated by their purpose, direction and interaction:
The team which comprises of the department heads who are responsible for managing the whole business operations is called a management team.
The operational team takes care of the overall functioning of an organization, and the team members fix the issues that hinder the company’s smooth operation.
The team which not lead by any leader or manager; instead, each member controls and directs their actions.
The team comprising of people with analytical thinking and problem-solving who come together for streamlining the process is a troubleshooting team.
Such teams are ubiquitous in the organizations which have a global presence. Since the team members are located in different countries, with different time zones, they cannot directly interact with each other.
Thus, such people stay connected through technology, in spite of varying languages and cultures.
Special Purpose Team
It is formed to fulfil a specific project or purpose. After completion of the task, such a team is disintegrated.
Similar to the special purpose team, a project team is the one which is built to efficiently execute a given project on time, by following a common strategy.
It can be further sub-divided into the following four categories:
Functional Team: Such a team is formed within a department and is usually permanent. It is regulated by a manager and works on regular projects ensuring that their part of the task is appropriately accomplished.
Multi-functional Team: It consists of team members who hold expertise in their fields. Such a team can be set temporarily or permanently, depending on the project and organization.
The purpose of these teams is to carry out high level or special projects.
Contract Team: The team which is formed by hiring the members from an external source is a contract team. A contract binds all the individuals in it.
The project manager is the one who coordinates between the team members and the client. After the project completion, the customer can disassociate from the team.
Matrix Team: In this ‘two-boss system or matrix organizational structure, the top-level managers exercise superior power or control, whereas the middle-level managers take care of the functioning and decision-making.
Given below is an elaboration of the distinctions mentioned above between a group and a team, to provide a better overview of the concepts:
- A group is formed when individuals with similar attributes, circumstances or purpose come together. Whereas, a team is the compilation of competent individuals who have a determined goal or objective.
- The members of the former are self-accountable for their work. However, in the latter, the members are personally as well as collectively responsible for their actions.
- The final authority of decision-making in a team is with the group members. On the contrary, in a team, the leader is the one who gives the final verdict.
- Though in a group, the individuals are given appropriate training, the members do not actively use their competencies. Whereas, a team ensures the development of members’ skills set; along with equal utilization of such competence, at the time of task execution.
- In the former, members are comparatively more concerned about meeting their objectives rather than the group goal. However, the members of the latter are highly focused towards the attainment of the team goals.
- A group comprises of the individuals who perform the assigned task independently. On the contrary, a team always functions together (i.e., teamwork) since the actions of one member are dependent on that of the other.
- In the former, there is no structured assignment of roles to the members. Whereas in the latter, the specific responsibilities and tasks are given to each member.
- In a group, the individuals may or may not socialize or develop an understanding with one another. However, in a team, the members should know the strengths, weaknesses and abilities of each other.
- A group does not have a declared leadership; instead, one of the members may prove to be dominant on others. On the contrary, a team is always lead by one or more team leaders, who are responsible for all the decision-making.
- In the former, members sometimes hardly know about the other members; therefore, there is a lack of mutual trust among them. Whereas, in the latter, the members socialize together and also have immense faith in one another.
- In a group, the members usually lack commitment towards the task accomplishment. However, in a team, each member is deeply engaged in the achievement of the team objective.
- The former considers conflict among the members as harmful and destructive. Also, if it occurs, then the situation may go out of control. But, the latter takes the conflict to be positive and constructive, since such discussions may provide valuable inputs. The conflicts in a team can be self-managed by its members or by the leader.
- The members in a group may not necessarily work in collaboration, i.e., the level of synergy can be neutral or even negative at times. On the contrary, the level of coordination or synergy among the team members should be highly positive.
When does a group become a team?
We can not just simply declare a group to be a capable team, until it successfully follows the seven principles of team building out of a group, as given below:
- The team members should feel free to express their perception and views; along with valuing the inputs provided by other members.
- The decision made should be a result of collective participation and contribution of all the team members.
- In a team, conflicts are usually treated as a source of information and generation of new ideas.
- The team members believe that they are together responsible for the execution of work or goal achievement; along with adherence to the established rules.
- There should be a higher degree of understanding among the team members. Such that, each one of them is aware of the weaknesses and strengths of other members, and can come forward for support whenever needed.
- In a team, the members have faith in the skills and competencies of one another. Thus, they support and boost the confidence of each other.
- The members efficiently apply their personal and professional skills to work towards the attainment of the team’s goals.
Making the team out of a group requires effective leadership, great enthusiasm and a high level of synergy. Also, if the group dynamics are designed expertly, such a group transforms into a strong team.