Written by careercoaching  |  20. March 2002

Everywhere we turn, there is another article touting the triumphs of teams. High performing teams: (1) enhance the potential for goal achievement, (2) leverage the talents of team members, (3) foster communication, creativity and motivation, and (4) increase resources for problem solving. Often people working together, like a department or task force, automatically assume that they are a team. However, not every work group is a team, nor does every group need to operate like a team. Designation as a team or a group is important because it impacts how a group sees itself collectively, and what the group is potentially able to achieve. If a group does not understand the type of group it is, it will NOT be adequately organized to accomplish its mission,able to maximize its performance potential and select the right strategies to guide or develop the group. If your company only needs a work group to accomplish its mission, why push to have a team? A team is not inherently better than a work group. Teams do require more development, maintenance and financial investment than a group. For example, since there is a positive correlation between the characteristics of a strong team and superior performance, having top team dynamics is viewed as desirable. In the pursuit of top team dynamics, companies spend significant time, talent and money infusing these characteristics within a team's oerational make-up. Is this necessary? Successful work groups, on the other hand, only need to display SOME of the same operating characteristics of top performing teams to be effective. Before you spend your limited training dollars, 1st determine if your group is a team or not. Only then can you realistically assess the true developmental and maintenance needs of the team, oops, group. Then use targeted assessment tools to isolate the key strengths and potential pitfalls of the group, ugh, team. Your resources can then be applied to address what the team or group really needs, and not what people assume is required for superior team/group performance.

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