Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Teams and Groups: The Main Differences

The following narrative describing the how teams differ from groups is important information for the economic development leader to know. It comes from the Performance, Learning, Leadership and Knowledge Website, a very good resource for those looking for useful practical advice on leadership issues.

Roles and Responsibilities

Within a group, individuals establish a set of behaviors called roles. These roles set expectations governing relationships. Roles often serve as source of confusion and conflict. While on the other hand, teams have a shared understanding on how to perform their role and perceive the other team members' roles.

Identity

While teams have an identity, groups do not. It is almost impossible to establish the sense of cohesion that characterizes a team without this fundamental step. A team has a clear understanding about what constitutes the team's mission and why it is important. They can describe a picture of what the team needs to achieve, and the norms and values that will guide them.

Cohesion

Teams have esprit that shows a sense of bonding and camaraderie. Esprit is the spirit, soul, and state of mind of the team. It is the overall consciousness of the team that a person identifies with and feels a part of. Individuals begin using "we" rather than "me."

Facilitate

Groups have a tendency to get bogged down with trivial issues. Ask yourself, "How much time gets wasted in meetings you attend?" Teams use facilitators to keep the team on the right path.

Communication

While members of a group are centered upon themselves, the team is committed to open communication. Team members feel they can state their opinions, thoughts, and feelings without fear. Listening is considered as important as speaking. Differences of opinion is valued and methods of managing conflict are understood. Through honest and caring feedback, members are aware of their strengths and weakness as team members. There is an atmosphere of trust and acceptance and a sense of community.

Flexibility

Most groups are extremely rigid. However, Teams maintain a high level of flexibility, and they perform different task and maintenance functions as needed. The responsibility for team development and leadership is shared. The strengths of each member are identified and used.

Morale

Team members are enthusiastic about the work of the team and each person feels pride in being a member of the team. Team spirit is high. To be a successful team, the group must have a strong ability to produce results and a high degree of satisfaction in working with one another.

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