In many work environments, the distinction between a team and a work group is not entirely clear, so we end up using both terms to refer to any group of employees who carry out their tasks collectively. However, team and group have very different meanings since they have to do with two different forms of organization. And, of course, to be more efficient as a company, we need to know exactly what we’re after.
A work team is made up of people organized to act together, who share specific objectives or goals with all the members and achieve it together. The attitude of each person is proactive, that is to say that participation and contribution is vital, which means that the level of commitment is high. In addition, creativity and novelty in ideas are valued, and tasks are distributed according to skills and abilities. Another of the most notable characteristics is that there is a leader whose role is fundamental in motivation and organization. Finally, the results and achievements belong to the whole.
Taking into account several criteria, we can classify the equipment as follows:
- Depending on the operating time: Permanent teams work indefinitely, regardless of the objectives that are achieved. And temporary ones are created to meet specific needs and objectives. Once the solution is presented, the team dissolves.
- Depending on the degree of training: The formal ones are created with a pre-established objective and can be permanent or temporary, and the informal ones are formed spontaneously to attend to a specific matter.
- According to the hierarchy: The horizontal ones have all their members at the same level and position, and the vertical ones occupy different positions, so, when making decisions, the hierarchical level in which we find ourselves will be decisive.
- According to its function: It can be to resolve specific conflicts, to set the tone to follow or to motivate all members and obtain better results.
A work group, on the other hand, consists of two or more people who meet or who share certain characteristics. Each member can have particular objectives and achieve them individually, since it does not depend on the rest. That does not necessarily imply that they do not have common interests. Their attitude is rather passive since they usually follow the established guidelines, so the level of commitment is lower or relative. And, finally, they work with a directional scheme, where the tasks are distributed equally, without the need for a leader to organize it or assess the achievements since each one judges their own.
We can classify them as follows:
- Primary group: There are few members and their relationship is based on affection, commitment and solidarity.
- Secondary group: It is made up of many people whose union are objectives and a common regulation.
- Reference group: It is used to make comparisons and study behaviors.
- Membership group: All members share certain characteristics.
- Formal group: The goal is to achieve previously formulated objectives, following a scheme and established rules.
- Informal group: They normally arise spontaneously, and generally start from formal groups, when two or more people come together by emotional ties or fellowship.
Once we are clear about what a work team implies, and what a work group is, as companies we have the responsibility to assess what is the best form of organization to successfully achieve our objectives. Many companies choose to combine both, since teams can be very useful for some things, and groups for others. Now, there is a component that will contribute to building both good groups and good teams: empathy. Putting yourself in other people’s shoes will always help to understand their needs and, therefore, to satisfy them.