The other day I was having lunch with my mentor when our discussion turned from our typical banter to an issue he was having with a group he was working with. Throughout the conversation he kept using the word group. Eventually he explained, “I call it a group and not a team because we are not acting like a team. We are literally a group of people working towards a similar goal, but we are not holding each other accountable, we are not helping each other; we are all individually providing work products and hoping it will come together in the end. We are just a group of people focused on our individual tasks.” He’s right. Work groups and teams are incredibly different, yet we use the words interchangeably. Then we get frustrated when our groups aren’t behaving like a team because we aren’t identifying it properly to begin with. If we are better able to see the differences between the two, we can work at managing our expectations better and perhaps we can even start turning our groups into teams. Here’s a chart to help you see the differences:
What do you think about this list? Is there anything you would add? Is there a time when it’s better to work as a group rather than a team?