Group or Team?
All teams are groups but not all groups are teams. What defines a group and what a team? When do we need one over the other one?
The terms group and team are often used interchangeably. Is there really a difference between the two terms and if so what is it?
A starting point in exploring this difference is to say that all teams are groups but not all groups are teams.
A number of people kicking a football about in the car park at lunchtime is probably a group. There is little structure to what is happening; it is just a few people acting in whatever role they choose (or possibly several) because they want to get some exercise and they like spending time with their friends before going back to work.
Taking this group and turning it into a football team would be a major task. Unlike the group, the team would have a clearly stated task: for example, winning as many matches as possible.
Ensuring that the team performed this task would involve choosing the right people according to their abilities and particular skills to perform clearly defined roles. Team training would need to be available to help the individuals work better together. The performance expectations of individuals would be defined by the roles they held. For example, no-one expects, except in very unusual circumstances, that the goalkeeper will score goals or that the strikers will defend the goal. When a game is won, the team is seen to have achieved the task, although individuals may still be singled out for praise, or for criticism, as appropriate.
A team is a special type of group that unites members towards mutually held objectives
So when do we need a group and when do we need a team? The following table summarises what defines a group and what a team.
There is overlap between teams and groups, of course. But distinctions are useful when considering whether to invest time and effort in building a team when a group will do.
A team is a small number of people with complementary skills, equally committed to a common purpose to which they hold themselves mutually accountable