Do you need a group or do you need a team. Is there a difference between the two? Why should it matter to you? What’s better for your business, the team approach or the group approach?
Before we can answer those questions, we need to understand the nature of groups and teams. The definition of a group is an assembly of individuals who meet regularly, who have frequent interaction, and who strive to achieve a goal or goals. This might mean that you put together a group of employees with diverse skill sets to solve a problem, tackle a new phase for your business, or to improve a process or product.
To assemble a group, you should go through the four steps of group development: forming, storming, norming, and performing. Interestingly, teams and groups go through the same process. Let’s look at the process and then discuss teams.
In the forming stage, everyone comes together and the members of the group begin to wrestle with the problem and take on their various roles within the group. It’s at this stage where everyone is usually interested in the project and enthusiastic about getting started. Depending on how you establish the group, if you don’t designate a formal leader, it’s during the forming stage that leaders emerge.
The storming stage is where group members begin to get to know one another better, and the push for power begins with some members. At this stage, a group member may challenge a non-designated leader for control of the group. In addition, it can also be a time when tempers begin to flare and team members bicker and aggravate each other. Think of this as the crucible stage of group development where pressure is applied and people must direct themselves to the task.
As the group settles down, the group moves into the norming phase, where group members settle into their respective roles and begin to become effective. Group members begin to focus on how they can help the group. As group members start to know what they can expect from others in the group, trust slowly begins to build and the group becomes more effective. A good leader helps a group to communicate effectively and provides positive feedback, which further strengthens the group.
The final stage of group development is the performing stage. This is where the group begins to perform at a high level. Unfortunately, many groups never reach this level. In a high performing group members ask, how can we do our best? In the performing stage, you have the full development of the potential of the group members and the group.
In the end however, you still have a collection of individuals who focus on other interests and activities. Group members typically remain cordial but are not committed to one another. You will typically assemble a group for a short-term project and then disband the group once the project has completed. According to Wikipedia, teams normally have members with complementary skills and a team generates synergy through a coordinated effort that allows each member to maximize his or her strengths and minimize his or her weaknesses.
A team transcends a group as it builds a strong sense of mutual commitment and creates synergistic energy, therefore, producing performance greater than the sum of its parts. A team outperforms a group because of the collaboration that develops between the members, and it builds and feeds on itself. When you attack one team member, you attack all of them. Team members will fight for each other because they genuinely care for one another’s well-being.
In the movie Remember the Titans, Denzel Washington stars as Coach Herman Boone a black coach hired to replace a much-loved white coach, Coach Bill Yoast, in 1971 when the school underwent court ordered desegregation. Coach Boone takes two groups of racially segregated players who show open hostility for one another and turns them into the second most winningest high school football team in the U.S. that year. The team was so tight that even girlfriends couldn’t break the bond between teammates.
So the question remains, do you want a team or a group? There’s no right or wrong answer; it’s only what’s right for your business. If you have a short-term project that you need to complete, a group will work just fine. If you have a longer term need, you should consider building a team.
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Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, and social media strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by helping HVAC dealers more effectively market their businesses without breaking their budgets. Contact him at 260-338-4554, [email protected] or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc. website.