From the start of our business degree, I have being told that we are no longer working in groups, but in teams. Back then, I asked myself “what is the difference between the two words? And does it matter?”. I did answer the question vaguely back then, but after this week’s reading I finally found an answer.
From the reading, Katzenbach and Smith (1992) believed that people in groups are focused in achieving their individual goals, where as people in teams have common goals they wanted to achieve. Dividing tasks up to let their team members to do it in their own time and never ask what they are up to is also typical characteristic of groups (Oakley, Felder & Brent, 2004). I begin to notice that most of my past experience in teamwork was actually group work. However, most students do find dividing tasks was more desirable because it was difficult to have meetings when there are clashes between timetables. As work is divided to the individual the knowledge that other members possess was not utilizes thus reduces the overall performance or result and loss of learning opportunities. Therefore the two terms does matter, because working together in teams can help you achieve something that yourself (just by yourself) could not achieve, together as a teams we can achieve this equation 1 + 1 =3.
But to build teams and achieve the equation, there are several things to consider in order to build an effective team. Research has found that members with a diverse expertise and have common goals will increase the effectiveness of teams (Katzenbach & Smith, 1992; Oakley et al., 2004). Also teams should set clear role descriptions specifying their responsibilities in their role. In addition, there are two other factors I would consider, one is communication because communication is important in clarifying goals and setting expectations on their roles, but also in solving team dynamic problems, and the second is trust and respect. These factors not only allow the team to perform well but also encourage individuals to contribute and engage in learning and to be successful.
Katzenbach, J. R. & Smith, D. K. (1992). Why teams matter. McKinsey Quarterly, (3), 3-27
Oakley, B., Felder, R. M., Brent, R., & Elhajj, I. (2004). Turning student groups into effective. Journal of Student Centered Learning, 2(1), 9-34.