One of the most interesting learning experiences I had this week was to do with the distinction between ‘work groups’ and ‘teams’. According to Katzenbach & Smith (1992), the distinction between the two has to do with performance. A ‘work group’ relies primarily on the sum of the individual members contributions to boost performance. A ‘team’, on the other hand, multiplies the impact of individuals by requiring collective work products, resulting in performance that is more than the sum of the individual members contributions. “The choice depends largely on whether the aggregation of individual achievements can meet overall performance aspirations, or whether truly collective efforts, skills, work-products, and mutual accountability are needed” (Katzenbach & Smith, 1992, p. 14).
This week I was also chosen as the CEO for my team. So the distinction between working groups and teams becomes particularly important. Specifically, how do we ensure we become an effective team as opposed to a working group. Katzenbach & Smith (1992) propose that a ‘real team’ is small number of people who have commentary skill sets, who are committed to a common working approach and goals, for which they hold themselves collectively accountable. So how do we go about turning a group of people in to a ‘real team’.
Establishing expectations is an important part of creating an effective team (Oakley, Felder, Brent & Elhajj, 2004). One way of doing this could be through a team expectations agreement. According to Oakley et al (2004), this serves two purposes. One, it unites the team with a common set of realistic expectations and it also serves to clearly outline what is acceptable and what is not. This seems to me to be an effective way to move forward. The other way I think would help us form an effective team is through regular feedback. There is the formal course peer feedback, however regular informal (written) feedback may also be effective because it increases the learning potential of decisions, as we all get feedback faster
Therefor, my tentative hypothesis is that through, having collective goals, deciding on team expectations and having more regular feedback cycles, our group will become more effective and hopefully mature into an effective team. Therefor I will try to action these points then evaluate the outcome.
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 teams. Journal of student centered learning, 2(1), 9--34.