Nature Of Work Groups And Teams

A team can be defined as a small group of people who have complimentary skills and abilities and are committed towards a common goal and approach for which they hold each other accountable. Its best size is between seven to twelve individuals but group size can always vary. Multiple and diverse opinions are represented and the final decision of a team is made either by vote or by an inferred agreement. A group is defined as a small faction of people who have complimentary skills and abilities and are committed a leader’s goals and approach making them to be accountable to the leader. Individual members of a team possess varied skills from each other, and every skilled personality can effectively contribute towards goal realization. Teams are often project oriented, whereas groups could form naturally and spontaneously. Team leaderships are collectively shared as a result of fewer members per team as compared to the number that can possibly form a group. Fundamentally, teams always need incredibly strong common purposes, but groups do not. In a well formed small team, leadership must be rotated and equally be shared. Even though a group is formally planned and established by the management as an element of formal organizational make-up, formal groupings may include divisions or departments where analogous activities seem clustered together. This group is normally created for the purposes of achieving specific organizational goals which are concerned with the harmonization of work related activities. Formal groups usually have a propensity to be permanent even though memberships are deemed to change. Informal groupings are more based on common beliefs and personal relationships than on defined or distinct role relationships. This kind of group serves more to satisfy both the psychological and social demands than the organizational goals (Griffin 2007).

Thus, members of an informal group can cut across the hierarchies in order to select their own desired leaders. It derives individual accountability rather than shared accountability. The following tables can be used to show the difference between a team and group as well as the difference between formal and informal groups. (See table 1)

Group cohesiveness is a major force that binds informal groups together. A factor that leads to a group to remain intact includes the size where large group are susceptible to breaking up than small groups. Where members are greatly depended on the group it becomes increasingly difficult for them to depart. The role of the group is central in forging closer ties among the members since where it has achieved goals that are noble to the eyes of the individuals, society or history the members will feel obliged to stick with the group. A high status group will in most cases remain intact than a low status group. This is possible through prudent management practises and pressures as to achieve success to a group then the type of management practise together with the ability to withstand pressure. If a group faces an external threat, it will tend to be more cohesive as the threat produces anxiety. The force of cohesiveness that brings groups together can either be emotional or related to a task being undertaken. The emotional aspect is as a result of the feelings that the members have to each other and to the group in general. Task cohesiveness relates to the extent to which the group members do have in sharing goals and how they work as the forces that pull or repel the group can either be positive or negative. The similarity of the members, how hard or easy it is to join the group and the external threats and competition influences the groups cohesiveness. The more similar the members of the group are the easier is to reach cohesiveness. The social identity theory states that people tend to be more comfortable with those whom are similar in external traits such as ethnicity and age as well as internal attributes such as values and attitudes. This will lead to greater trust and less conflict. When members are faced with competition from another group, they become more aware of themselves and their group becomes a common means of overcoming this external threat increasing cohesiveness. These factors can be represented through the Caron’s model shown below. (See image 1).

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For effectiveness, members need to be skilled in roles related leadership. This kind of interaction requires the group to have been in existence for a period of time that has established an entrenched and relaxed working relationship among the members leading members and leaders should have trust and confidence in the group as well as in each other. Values and goals should be integrated and expressed to all members. This is best achieved by establishing boundaries with colleagues and encourages them to discuss difference in full without impedance. Power and authority is avoided as a means of resolving issues and all people regardless of their position are vulnerable as conflict which has been suppressed is likely to be destructive. The roles played by individuals within the groups are influenced by personal and situational factors. An individual’s roles sets are influenced by role associations, relationships and interactions with outsiders. Role incongruence on the other hand occurs when staff members have highly responsible positions in particular respects, but low standing positions in the others creating conflicts and discords. Role expectations are basically given to individuals formally or informally (Mullins 2008).

They are based on rules, contracts, standards, policies, regulations, acceptable behavioural patterns, mutual support, appearance and attitudes. In a case where an employee’s expectations are loosely defined by the manager, then the employee can utilize the opportunity to build self established roles. In most cases, role conflicts arise from inappropriate or inadequate role definitions while role incompatibility results from contradictory expectations or simultaneous differences which create inconsistencies. Role overload implies that an individual faces too much expectations and roles while role ambiguity is a situation whereby an individual’s role lacks clarity pertaining to the role precise requirements, which eventually results into uncertainties. Role under-load is where individuals feel unmotivated or unchallenged especially when the perceived roles requires less than what they are willing to give or able to achieve leading to role stress. In addition, health issues have cropped up in situations where the employees experience role stresses. To solve these problems, the managers usually apply an organization matrix to amicably make employees comply with the prescribed roles. In the matrix, there are both positive and negative sanctions which may be applied informally or formally, indirectly or directly .Team work therefore has a dramatic effect on the overall performance of an organization as effective team can aid in achieving credible results. There is a need for a coaching culture where the assessment of the individual is combined with interviews and is used to determine the extent to which issues are not being addressed.

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A customer to any organization is the life line of the organization and many businesses do establish relations and practises that seek to understand and respond to the challenges that have arisen out of a customer’s feedback. This can be achieved by coming up with a coaching culture that encourages people to talk about what is important and what needs to be done in achieving groups strategy and mission. Communication with the team/group is crucial as it leads to more cohesion and trust, resolution of conflict with more production to the organization as a whole. The members have all the freedom to challenge the ideas, decisions and interrogate the lessons learnt. This entails the members to be effective in the overall and specific goals of the group and this commitment must go beyond the personal goals or agendas. They need to have faith among themselves and have trust among themselves so as to keep the confidence levels high. The members have to know how they fit into the overall aim of the group where they know there roles and have a sense of ownership through an effective communication channel and ownership schemes for the team or group. The internal communication allows team members to make decisions that are balanced and handle conflict effectively. Everyone has a role to play in the team/group despite the difference in roles and experience and the team members feel a sense of partnership with each other. For groups there is need for a clear communication channel with the manager where the relationship is good and cordial between him/her with the rest of the group. The team needs to focus on what is important hence the need for empowerment and a chance for creativity and innovation to flourish through learning and provision for incentives that will further the groups agenda (Wheelan 2009).

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Work cited.

Griffin, R. W. (2007). Fundamentals of Management. Auckland, New Zealand: Cengage Learning Publishers.

Mullins, L. J. (2008). Essentials of organizational behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Financial Times/Prentice Hall Publishers.

Wheelan, S. A. (2009). Creating Effective Teams: A Guide for Members and Leaders. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publishers.

Figure 1.

Table 1: Difference Between Groups and Teams



Individual accountability

Individual and mutual accountability

Focus on individual goals

Focus on team goals

Come together to share information and perspectives

Frequently come together for discussion, decision making, problem solving, and planning

Produce individual work products

Produce collective work products

Define individual roles, responsibilities, and tasks

Define individual roles, responsibilities, and tasks to help team do its work; often share and rotate them

Concern with one’s own outcome and challenges

Concern with outcomes of everyone and challenges the team faces

Purpose, goals, approach to work shaped by manager

Purpose, goals, approach to work shaped by team leader with team members

Image 1.

Source: Google images.

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