Working Groups and Teams are they the same?

There is no consensus on the definitions of WORK GROUPS and TEAMS.  WORK GROUPS might be defined as two or more individuals, interacting and independent, that meet to achieve a particular goal. WORK GROUPS interact primarily to share information and to make decisions that help each member work within their areas of responsibilities.  WORK GROUPS are prevalent and required in large organizations where individual responsibility is important. The best WORK GROUPS come together to share information, perspectives and ideas; to make decisions that help everyone to do their jobs better; and to increase the standards of performance.  The focus is always On the individual. Single WORK GROUP members take responsibility for their actions and individual results.

On the other hand, TEAMS are groups whose individual efforts result in performance that is greater than the sum of the individual inputs. That is, it generates positive synergy with coordination efforts. A TEAM is a small number of people with complementary skills committed to a common purpose, established goals, and they are mutually responsible for achieving them. The TEAM differs fundamentally from WORK GROUP in that it requires both individual and shared responsibility. TEAMS produce discreet results with the joint contribution of its members. This is what enables higher levels of performance than the sum of all the best individual parts of its members. Commitment is essential for the TEAM. Without it, it performs at the individual level, and with it becomes a powerful unit of collective performances. This type of commitment requires a purpose for each member to believe in.  By having a credible TEAM purpose it gives a motivational element to achieve it.

Not all WORK GROUPS can be considered TEAMS, but all TEAMS can be analyzed from the perspective of group processes. There is a wide range of individual and social factors that have driven the development and establishment of these TEAMS.  From a social perspective it is worth mentioning that one of the most relevant factors is the increased market competitiveness, thanks to the overwhelming advancement of new technologies and reduced manufacturing costs. This has increased the complexity of the work processes, making it necessary for employee participation both in functional processes and quality control.  Among the individual elements that must be mentioned is the individual evolution of workers. Today more and more workers demand greater participation, they have higher levels of training and formation, then they had only ten years ago.

Therefore, current organizational needs have led to developing within WORK GROUPS more agile ones called TEAMS.  What distinguishes basically the TEAM from other kinds of WORKING GROUPS is their performance.  WORK GROUPS depend on the individual contribution of its members to the group performance. But the TEAM strives for something greater than what could be reached by the members individually. In other words, an effective TEAM is always more than the sum of its parts. This is why TEAMS will continue to grow and become the primary unit in competitive organizations.


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