Work team and work group: are they the same?
Organizations usually emphasize teamwork while searching for maximum performance, but oftentimes the effect of this is limited only to the good intentions from senior management. The most efficient work teams have quite defined characteristics, and they differ from work groups.
Having said this, we must ask ourselves what are the differences between a work group and a work team? Or rather: how to evolve from a group to a team?
A work group is basically a sum of individualities, with each person concerned to fulfill their tasks, with low levels of communication and collaboration. On the other hand, a work team is characterized by having clear objectives, a lot of communication, collaboration within and between teams and, as a result, the contribution of the team is superior to the simple sum of individual contributions.
However, the evolution from work group to work team doesn’t happen overnight. Furthermore, it takes place in stages or in a staggered way to the point where a high performance team is able to self-manage and make decisions.
Characteristics of high performance work teams
Teams that reach peak performance have defined and significant characteristics: There is great respect and trust among its members, they recognize their strengths and weaknesses, while sharing common values, beliefs and clear well-defined goals. Information is exchanged as a basis for collaboration between them, allowing permanent communication.
On the other hand, its members protect each other, covering precisely the possible failures that each one may commit.They are also able to subordinate their interests to those of the team, and assume a shared leadership, they do not always have a clear and defined leader.
Types of work teams
Work teams can be created ad hoc, to solve specific problems, after which they may dissolve. They can be interdisciplinary, usually created to develop large-scale projects that require the participation of different areas. A team can also be virtual or remote by leveraging a strong technological base, widely used by global companies. Finally, a team can be self-directed, with shared leadership and internal decision-making for the different tasks entrusted to the team.
Work teams are the result of continually practicing the necessary principles such as trust, shared values, and clear well-defined common goals. Once established, they will promote ad hoc or interdisciplinary collaboration by information exchange, fluid and honest communication, shared leadership and self-direction by subordinating individual interests to team interests.
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