Groups vs teams
Written by Sofie Heide-Ottosen
This article provides an overview and characteristics of the different types of groups and teams, including formal and informal groups, command groups, interest groups, cross-functional teams, functional teams, problem-solving teams, project teams, self-managed teams, and virtual teams. Additionally, suggestions on how to form successful groups and teams are given as well as the use of these for project managers to determine which approach is best suited for their needs. Then this article provides examples of their applications in various settings.
Furthermore, an examination and discussion of the benefits and limitations of using these structures in organizational settings is done. For the challenges associated with group work, such as groupthink, conflicts, and coordination challenges, strategies for mitigating these challenges is provided
By understanding the strengths, weaknesses and differences between groups and teams, project managers and organizations can better leverage the strengths of these structures to maximize productivity and achieve optimal outcomes. This article provides valuable insights into different nuances of groups and teams and how to effectively use each one in organizational settings.
Groups and teams are critical components in organizational settings and in many cases the key for project managers to achieve shared goals and organizational success.  While the two terms are often used interchangeably, they have distinct differences that affect their effectiveness in achieving these goals.
A group is a collection of individuals who come together based on shared interests, values, or goals. A team, on the other hand, is a specific type of group with a common purpose, shared responsibility for outcomes, and interdependence among members. Understanding these differences can help organizations determine which approach is best suited for their needs.
In this section, we will explore the different types of groups and teams that exist in organizations, their characteristics, and how they differ from one another. Furthermore it will also be explained how to achieve a successful group or team in regard to formation.
Types of groups and teams
- Types of Groups: 
- Formal Groups
- These are the groups that are formed within the formal structure of an organization. They are created to achieve specific organizational goals and are usually hierarchical in nature. Members of formal groups have specific roles and responsibilities to fulfill, and their performance is evaluated based on the achievement of organizational goals.
- Command Groups
- These are the groups that are created by the organization to achieve specific tasks or projects. Command groups are typically temporary and disband once the task is completed. The leader of a command group has the authority to assign tasks and make decisions.
- Task Groups
- These are the groups that are created to perform specific tasks or functions within the organization. Task groups can be permanent or temporary, depending on the nature of the task. The leader of a task group has the responsibility to ensure that the task is completed efficiently and effectively.
- Informal Groups
- These are groups that are formed spontaneously and are not part of the formal structure of an organization. They are created based on common interests, personal relationships, or social needs. Informal groups can have a significant influence on the behavior and attitudes of their members, but they do not have a defined role or responsibility within the organization.
- Types of Teams: 
- Functional Teams
- These are the teams that are created within a functional area of the organization. They are responsible for performing specific tasks related to that area, such as marketing or finance. Members of functional teams have specific roles and responsibilities, and their performance is evaluated based on the achievement of functional goals.
- Cross-Functional Teams
- These are the teams that are created to achieve specific organizational goals that require the expertise of individuals from different functional areas. Cross-functional teams are often used for projects that are complex and require a diverse range of skills and knowledge.
- Self-Managed Teams
- These are the teams that are given the responsibility to manage their own work and performance. Self-managed teams are often used in organizations that value employee empowerment and engagement.
- Virtual Teams
- These are the teams that are created to work together remotely, using technology such as video conferencing, email, and instant messaging. Virtual teams are often used by organizations that have geographically dispersed employees or clients.
In summary, there are various types of groups and teams in organizations, each with its own characteristics and purposes. While groups are typically formal or informal and focus on achieving specific goals, teams are more collaborative and are often formed to achieve broader organizational goals that require diverse expertise. Understanding the differences between these two concepts is important for managers and leaders to create effective work structures and ensure that employees are working together effectively.
How to form the successfull group and team
Forming successful groups and teams is a complex process that requires careful consideration of various factors. There are several methods, techniques, and theories that can help in the formation of effective groups and teams. In this section, we will discuss some of the most widely used methods and theories for forming groups and teams.
- One of the most popular theories for forming groups and teams is the Belbin Team Roles theory. This theory suggests that there are nine different team roles, each with its unique strengths and weaknesses. These roles include plant, monitor-evaluator, coordinator, resource investigator, implementer, completer-finisher, team worker, shaper, and specialist. According to this theory, successful teams have a balanced representation of these roles.
- The Tuckman model is another widely used theory for forming effective teams. This model consists of four stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing. In the forming stage, team members get to know each other and establish ground rules. In the storming stage, conflicts may arise as team members assert themselves and their ideas. In the norming stage, the team establishes a common vision and works together more cohesively. Finally, in the performing stage, the team is highly functional and productive.
- Another method for forming effective teams is to focus on team diversity. This means that team members should come from diverse backgrounds and possess different skill sets and perspectives. Diversity can lead to more creative and innovative solutions and help teams overcome challenges more effectively.
- Another technique for forming effective groups and teams is to use team-building exercises. These exercises are designed to build trust, improve communication, and increase collaboration among team members. Examples of team-building exercises include trust falls, group problem-solving activities, and group brainstorming sessions.
- It is also important to consider the size of the group or team when forming them. Smaller groups may be more efficient and effective, as they are easier to manage and can work more cohesively. However, larger groups may be more diverse and offer a wider range of skills and perspectives. 
In conclusion, forming successful groups and teams is crucial for achieving organizational success. There are several methods, techniques, and theories that can help in the formation of effective groups and teams, such as the Belbin Team Roles theory, team diversity, the Tuckman model, team-building exercises, and considering the size of the group or team. By carefully considering these factors, organizations can form groups and teams that are productive, innovative, and able to overcome challenges effectively.
In the next section, we will explore the application and use of groups and teams in organizations.
Groups and teams are both utilized in various settings for different purposes. However, there are significant differences between the two, which impact how they are utilized and their effectiveness in achieving goals.
- Groups are often used in situations where individual members have their own set of tasks to complete, but they are working together towards a common goal. They are common in business, education, and social settings. In a business setting, a group may be formed to complete a project, brainstorm ideas or develop solutions to problems. In an educational setting, a group may be formed to complete a class project or to discuss course material. In social settings, groups may be formed to achieve common interests or to support a common cause.
- Teams, on the other hand, are used in situations where individuals come together with unique skill sets to work towards a common goal. They are often used in sports, military, and emergency response settings. In a sports setting, a team is made up of individuals with specific positions and skill sets that are needed to win games. In the military, teams are formed to complete missions that require a variety of skills and expertise. In emergency response situations, teams are formed to provide necessary aid and support.
The application and use of groups versus teams depend on the nature of the task at hand. Groups are often used when the task is relatively simple and requires minimal collaboration and coordination between members. In contrast, teams are used when the task is complex and requires a high level of collaboration and coordination between members.
- In business settings, groups may be used for tasks such as brainstorming, problem-solving, or decision-making. For instance, a group may be formed to brainstorm ideas for a new product or service, and individual members may work independently to come up with their own ideas, which are then shared with the group. In contrast, a team may be formed to work on a complex project that requires the integration of multiple disciplines, such as engineering, marketing, and sales. In such a scenario, team members must collaborate to ensure that their individual contributions are integrated seamlessly into the final product.
- In educational settings, groups are often used for class projects and assignments. Students may be assigned to work in groups to complete a project or to prepare for a presentation. The goal is to ensure that each student is responsible for contributing their ideas and completing their portion of the project. However, teams may be used in educational settings as well, particularly in situations where the task is complex and requires collaboration between members with different skills and expertise.
- In sports settings, teams are utilized to win games by leveraging the unique skills and strengths of individual players. The success of the team is dependent on how well the players work together and coordinate their efforts towards achieving a common goal. In contrast, groups are not used in sports settings because the tasks are usually simple and do not require a high level of coordination and collaboration between members.
In conclusion, the application and use of groups versus teams depend on the nature of the task at hand. Groups are useful for simple tasks that require minimal coordination and collaboration, while teams are essential for complex tasks that require the integration of multiple skills and expertise. The decision to use a group or a team should be made based on the nature of the task, the skills required, and the level of coordination and collaboration needed to achieve the desired outcome.
Successfull project management in regard to groups and teams
Project management can be successful in achieving its objectives when the appropriate group or team is selected based on the project requirements. In some cases, a group may be the most appropriate choice, while in others, a team may be more effective. 
- Successful Group
- The Apollo 13 mission control team ia a group that consisted of experts in various fields, including engineering, science, and communication, who were brought together to solve the crisis that occurred during the Apollo 13 mission. They collaborated to develop and implement innovative solutions to bring the astronauts safely back to Earth. The group’s success can be attributed to the effective communication, problem-solving, and decision-making skills of its members.
- Successful Team
- The U.S. Women's Soccer team is a team won the 2019 World Cup championship, which required not only technical skills but also teamwork, communication, and strategic planning. The team was able to come together and work collaboratively, supporting each other's strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately achieving their goal.
References show that the success of project management using groups versus teams depends on several factors, such as the project’s complexity, the level of interdependence among tasks, and the skills and expertise required for the project. For instance, a study by Belbin (2010) suggests that team composition can be critical to team effectiveness, and certain roles, such as the plant and monitor evaluator, can help promote better decision-making and problem-solving skills. Similarly, a study by Katzenbach and Smith (1993) found that teams are more effective than groups when the tasks require high levels of interdependence and collaboration.
In conclusion, the success of project management depends on selecting the appropriate group or team based on the project requirements. While a group may be more effective in some cases, a team may be the better choice in others. By considering the project’s complexity, level of interdependence, and required skills and expertise, project managers can select the most appropriate approach and achieve their objectives.
Organizations rely on groups and teams to achieve their goals, but each has its limitations. In this section, we will discuss the limitations of groups versus teams, and how these limitations can impact organizational performance. Groups are collections of individuals who work independently, whereas teams are groups of individuals who work together in pursuit of a common goal. One of the limitations of groups is that they lack the cohesion and coordination necessary for effective teamwork. Group members often work independently, without a clear sense of how their efforts relate to those of their peers. This can lead to redundancy, gaps in coverage, and a lack of accountability. In contrast, teams work collaboratively, with each member contributing to a shared goal. This enables teams to leverage the strengths and expertise of each member, and to coordinate their efforts towards a common objective. Another limitation of groups is that they can be less effective at problem-solving and decision-making than teams. Groups often lack the expertise or resources necessary to tackle complex challenges, and may struggle to reach consensus on important decisions. This can lead to a lack of innovation, delays, and suboptimal outcomes. Teams, on the other hand, bring together individuals with diverse skills and perspectives, enabling them to tackle complex challenges and make informed decisions. Teams can also generate creative solutions and new ideas through collaboration and brainstorming.
However, teams are not without their limitations. One of the main challenges of teams is that they require significant investment of time and resources. Effective teams require ongoing training, communication, and support to function at their best. This can be costly and time-consuming for organizations, particularly those with limited resources. Additionally, the formation of teams can be complicated, requiring careful consideration of factors such as team size, composition, and leadership structure. Another limitation of teams is that they can be prone to groupthink. Groupthink is a phenomenon where team members prioritize consensus and conformity over critical thinking and independent decision-making. This can lead to suboptimal outcomes, particularly in situations where alternative perspectives are not considered. Groupthink can also lead to a lack of innovation and creativity, as team members may be reluctant to challenge the status quo or suggest unconventional solutions. Finally, teams can be prone to social loafing, where some team members reduce their effort because they believe others will compensate. This can lead to lower productivity, a lack of accountability, and frustration among team members. Social loafing can be particularly problematic in larger teams, where individual contributions may be less visible and easier to conceal.
In conclusion, both groups and teams have their limitations, and organizations must carefully consider their specific needs and resources when deciding which approach to use. While groups may be effective in certain contexts, they are often less effective than teams at achieving complex goals and making informed decisions. Teams, on the other hand, can be expensive and time-consuming to create and maintain, and may be vulnerable to groupthink and social loafing. Organizations should invest in training, communication, and support to maximize the effectiveness of their teams, and should remain vigilant to potential limitations and challenges. By doing so, they can leverage the strengths of both groups and teams, and drive better outcomes for their organization.
Robbins, S. P., Coulter, M., & DeCenzo, D. A. (2016). Fundamentals of Management. Pearson Education.
Robbins, Coulter, and DeCenzo's "Fundamentals of Management" is a comprehensive and accessible textbook that provides an introduction to the basic principles of management. The book covers a wide range of topics, including the functions of management, organizational structure, leadership, motivation, and communication. The authors use real-world examples and case studies to illustrate the concepts discussed, making the text relevant and engaging for readers. The book is organized into four parts that explore the context of management, the planning process, the organizing process, and the leading and controlling processes. With its practical focus and clear writing style, "Fundamentals of Management" is an essential resource for students and professionals seeking to enhance their understanding of management theory and practice.
Robbins, S. P., Judge, T. A., & Millett, B. (2019). Organizational behavior. Pearson Education Limited.
Robbins, Judge, and Millett's "Organizational Behavior" is a seminal textbook in the field of management and organizational behavior. The authors' research-driven approach and comprehensive coverage of the topic make this book a valuable resource for both students and practitioners. The book is divided into three parts that cover individual, interpersonal, and organizational processes, each with a focus on real-world applications of the concepts discussed. The authors emphasize the importance of diversity, ethics, and social responsibility in organizations, providing readers with a nuanced understanding of the complex dynamics of human behavior in the workplace. Overall, "Organizational Behavior" is an essential text for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of how organizations function and how individuals can thrive within them.
DuBrin, Andrew J. (2015). Essentials of Management. Cengage Learning.
DuBrin's "Essentials of Management" is a concise and accessible textbook that covers the fundamental principles of management. The author uses a practical and real-world approach to present key concepts, such as planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. The book is organized into three main parts that explore the context of management, the planning process, and the organizing and leading processes. Each chapter includes learning objectives, review questions, and real-world examples that illustrate the concepts discussed. The author's focus on contemporary issues, such as diversity and globalization, makes this book particularly relevant for today's managers. With its clear writing style and practical approach, "Essentials of Management" is a valuable resource for both students and professionals seeking to enhance their understanding of management theory and practice.
Osborn, A. F. (1963). Applied imagination: Principles and procedures of creative problem solving. Charles Scribner's Sons.
Osborn's "Applied Imagination" is a classic text on creative problem-solving that has stood the test of time. The book outlines a step-by-step process for generating and evaluating ideas, and provides practical techniques for improving creativity and innovation. The author emphasizes the importance of collaboration and communication in the creative process, and provides numerous examples of successful problem-solving in a variety of fields. The book has been widely used in business and education, and is still relevant today as a guide to fostering creativity and innovation. Overall, "Applied Imagination" is a must-read for anyone interested in developing their problem-solving skills and enhancing their creativity.
Katzenbach, J. R., & Smith, D. K. (1993). The discipline of teams. Harvard Business Review, 71(2), 111-120.
Katzenbach and Smith's "The Discipline of Teams" is an influential article that highlights the benefits and challenges of team-based work. The authors argue that high-performing teams are essential for organizations to compete effectively in today's rapidly changing business environment. The article provides practical advice on how to build and sustain effective teams, emphasizing the importance of clear goals, shared accountability, and a strong team identity. The authors draw on examples from a variety of industries to illustrate the principles discussed, and provide a framework for assessing and improving team performance. "The Discipline of Teams" is a valuable resource for anyone interested in enhancing team effectiveness and improving organizational performance.
Hackman, J. R., & Morris, C. G. (1975). Group tasks, group interaction process, and group performance effectiveness: A review and proposed integration. Advances in experimental social psychology, 8, 45-99.
Hackman and Morris's article "Group Tasks, Group Interaction Process, and Group Performance Effectiveness" is a seminal work in the field of organizational behavior. The article provides a comprehensive review of research on group processes and performance, and proposes a framework for understanding the relationship between task characteristics, group processes, and performance outcomes. The authors argue that task interdependence, group cohesiveness, and individual motivation are critical factors that influence group performance, and provide practical recommendations for enhancing group effectiveness. The article has had a significant impact on the field of organizational behavior, and continues to be cited as a key reference in research on group dynamics and performance. Overall, "Group Tasks, Group Interaction Process, and Group Performance Effectiveness" is a valuable resource for anyone interested in understanding the complex dynamics of group work.
- ↑ Robbins, S. P., Coulter, M., & DeCenzo, D. A. (2016). Fundamentals of Management. Pearson Education.
- ↑ Katzenbach, J. R., & Smith, D. K. (2003). The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization. Harvard Business Press.
- ↑ Hackman, J. R. (2002). Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances. Harvard Business Press.
- ↑ Robbins, S. P., Judge, T. A., & Millett, B. (2019). Organizational behavior. Pearson Education Limited.
- ↑ DuBrin, Andrew J. (2015). Essentials of Management. Cengage Learning.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Belbin, R. M. (2010). Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail. Butterworth-Heinemann
- ↑ Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63(6), 384-399.
- ↑ R. B. Woodring, R. A. Boies, and C. A. Johnson. (2004). The impact of team diversity on team outcomes: A field study. Small Group Research 35, no. 3: 365-398.
- ↑ Blank, C. (2018). Team Building Exercises That Actually Work. Harvard Business Review.
- ↑ O'Grady, S., & Malloch, M. (2010). The effective small group: Communication and teamwork (Custom). Cengage Learning.
- ↑ Osborn, A. F. (1963). Applied imagination: Principles and procedures of creative problem solving. Charles Scribner's Sons.
- ↑ Barkley, Cross, and Major (2014) titled "Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty.
- ↑ Wright, T., & Craig, T. (2011). Teamwork in sport: A theoretical and integrative review. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 4(1), 146-170. doi: 10.1080/1750984X.2010.535932
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- ↑ Kluger, J. (1995). Apollo 13: How Failure Became NASA's Finest Hour. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
- ↑ Kellner, T. (2019). What we can learn from the US women's soccer team's management style. CNBC.
- ↑ Katzenbach, J. R., & Smith, D. K. (1993). The discipline of teams. Harvard Business Review, 71(2), 111-120.
- ↑ Hackman, J. R., & Morris, C. G. (1975). Group tasks, group interaction process, and group performance effectiveness: A review and proposed integration. Advances in experimental social psychology, 8, 45-99.
- ↑ Salas, E., Sims, D. E., & Burke, C. S. (2005). Is there a "big five" in teamwork?. Small group research, 36(5), 555-599.
- ↑ Tannenbaum, S. I., Mathieu, J. E., Salas, E., & Cohen, D. (2012). Teams are changing: Are research and practice evolving fast enough?. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 5(1), 2-24.
- ↑ Janis, I. L. (1972). Victims of groupthink: A psychological study of foreign-policy decisions and fiascoes. Houghton Mifflin.
- ↑ Latane, B., Williams, K., & Harkins, S. (1979). Many hands make light the work: The causes and consequences of social loafing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(6), 822-832.