Groups and Teams
A group is a collection of individuals who gather and interact for a common purpose. For example, a study group. They gather and usually focus their attention on an activity or common interest. They may or may not have stated goals or rules to govern membership in the group. Being a member of a group probably requires minimal expertise and may or may not be professional in nature. A team is a specialized group. Team members also have a common objective or purpose, but focus on performance and collective improvement. An example would be an emergency medical team. Teams frequently have structure and certain criteria for membership. Teams almost always have stated goals. Team members frequently have an area of expertise and may be professionals.
How Groups and Teams Differ
Teams and groups differ most in their focus on performance and improvement. A team focuses on its collective performance and usually offers members opportunity to improve incrementally over time. Individuals on a team are dependent on one another to achieve their goal. Their performance affects others on the team and its results. Team members take mutual responsibility and are accountable for results. Groups do interact and may work together well, but they usually do not have a requirement for collective and incremental performance. Success in the group is not dependent on how others perform and individuals take responsibility for their own successes. Accountability is usually at the individual level, not the group level. In short, all teams are groups, but not all groups are teams.
Characteristics of Effective Teams
Effective teams don’t succeed by happenstance. They all have certain things in common in addition to their focus on performance and collective improvement. In general, members are clear on the team objective. They are capable and committed to meeting the objective. They work in a trusting, collaborative way to achieve the objective. Those two concepts, trust and commitment, are the glue that holds teams together.
- To improve communication. For teambuilding to be effective everyone must be involved. By developing teamwork students will learn to encourage one another by talking and by listening to each other in order to solve a challenge.
- To learn different roles. By working together in groups natural leaders and followers will emerge. Students put into new activities and into new positions will establish new roles and be able to experience new things.
- To improve risk taking. When students have the support of a group around them they are more willing to take greater risks and to try new things. In short like the saying goes: the greater the risk, the greater the reward. Students will often develop more self confidence when they have the comfort of others behind them.
- To develop a more positive work environment. When students have to work together to solve a common goal it can reinforce current friendships and develop a new respect for others. Teamwork can
Nine Key Attributes of Effective Teams
The structure of any effective team rests on a foundation of trust and commitment. Trust comes from the confidence the members have in you, the leader, and in each other—and from their sense of how much they can rely on you and each other. Commitment is each individual’s motivation and willingness to belong to the team and help achieve the defined goals. Both are equally essential to the team’s effectiveness. The leader's job is to foster these two aspects of the team, ensure they continue to grow, and sustain them in the face of other variables and obstacles during your mission. These nine attributes of effective teams show you where to focus.
- Concern for Others
- Motivation to Participate
- Perception of Value for Your Team’s Purpose
- Rewards and Recognition
- Opportunity to Learn and Grow
- Positive Environment
Stages of Team Development
Like individuals, teams mature at different rates. But almost every team goes through the following three key stages. Generally, as your teams progress through these stages, members will demonstrate or develop the nine key elements of effective teams.
- Formation. In this stage, the team is fragile. Individuals may not know one another very well yet. Communication among members can be basic and noncontroversial. The team may tend to focus on immediate tasks, and members’ level of trust is medium to high. The team is thinking short term and members’ focus is more on the task at hand than on process improvement (your strategic or longer-term result). But team members may also have conflicting opinions, backgrounds, ethics, and approaches to problems. They may even resist leadership as the team begins to develop.
- Enrichment. During the enrichment stage of team building, personalities may well clash. The team members may tend to lose focus on the task and the process. They may start to focus on
their own needs rather than the team’s. Communication becomes more sophisticated, but can be unproductive and even damaging (e.g. sarcasm, innuendo, teasing). At this stage, the leader must focus on integrity and communication to improve trust. Members will slowly recognize the merits of working together. This is the point when “I” becomes “We.” Team members adopt teamwork methods and processes.
- Sustainment. At the sustainment stage, the team has fully matured. Work methods become fine-tuned and a process has emerged for each team member. Communication is candid—members
feel free to share their views and are comfortable doing so. Members feel confident and receive high levels of support from the team. At this point, the leader is able to orchestrate efforts rather than micromanage specific tasks by your team members. Team members operate with minimal direction or supervision, and they take the initiative.
What is Team Building?
Team building can be defined as group cooperative learning to try and solve a challenge.
Important Parts of Team Building
- Perseverance. It is important to understand that success doesn't always come easy. Failure only means the need to try again or to re-think strategies.
- Rules. In team building there must be clear rules that are followed. Whether the rules are for a game or for expected behaviors, they must be set up to promote respect, responsibility, and safety but at the same time they must be open enough to allow for student creativity, exploration, and experimentation.
- Social Development. In Team Building the focus is how the group works together to try and complete the task at hand.
have a long lasting positive influence throughout your classroom in many different areas.