Definition of Team vs. a Group

Posted by Kristin Arnold on April 14, 2012

Many years ago, I heard this surprising contrast between a group and a team:

A group of people get on an elevator.  A team occurs when the elevator gets stuck!

Think about it.  A group of people walk on to the elevator, they work on the same floor, they work for the same boss, they work on the same type of task… get the idea.  A group has something in common with each other.

A team is more than a group.  They have a common goal.  And that goal transforms them into a team of people working toward the same outcome – together.

You might be thinking, who cares?  Why does this make a difference?

As a leader, the strategies you use for groups are different than the strategies you use for teams.

In addition to recognizing and rewarding individual contributions, you must also recognize team performance toward the goal.  This simple shift in focus creates a new set of behaviors:

  • More communication among team members
  • More collaboration on how to do the job better, cheaper, faster
  • More synergy in identifying opportunities or improvements
  • More sharing of best practices
  • More shared experiences and camaraderie between team members

Does it matter if you use the term “group” or “team”.  Only if you want people to figure out how to get out of the elevator!

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