v) The Differences Between Groups and Teams




. Members think they are grouped together for administrative purposes. Individuals work independently; sometimes at cross purposes with others.

. Members tend to focus on themselves because they are not sufficiently involved in planning the unit's objectives. They approach their job simply as a hired hand.

. Members are told what to do rather than being asked what the best approach would be. Suggestions are not encouraged.

. Members distrust motives of colleagues because they do not understand the roles of other members. Expressions of opinions or dissenting views are considered divisive and non-supportive.

. Members are so cautious that they say that real understanding is not possible. Game playing may occur and communications traps may be set to catch the unwary.

. Members may receive good training but they are limited in applying it to the job by supervisors or other group members.

. Members are in conflict situations which they do not know how to resolve. Their supervisors may put off intervention until serious damage is done.

. Members may or may not participate in decisions affecting the team. Conformity often appears more important than positive results.

. Members recognise their interdependence and understand both personal and team goals are accomplished with mutual support. Time is not wasted struggling to protect their "turf" or attempting personal gain at the expense of others.

. Members feel a sense of ownership for their jobs and unit because they are committed to goals they helped establish.

. Members contribute to organisational success by applying their unique talents and knowledge to team objectives.

. Members participate in decisions affecting the team but understand their leader must make a final ruling whenever the team cannot decide, or an emergency exists. Positive results, not conformity, are the goal.

. Members practise open and honest communications. They make an effort to understand each other's point of view.

. Members are encouraged to develop skills and apply what they learn on the job. They receive the support of the team.

. Members recognise conflict is a normal aspect of human interaction but they view such situations as opportunities for new ideas and creativity. They work to resolve conflict quickly and constructively.

. Members work in a climate of trust and are encouraged to openly express ideas, opinions, disagreements and feelings. Questions are welcomed.

(source: Robert Hicks et al, 1990)

Furthermore, more and more staff are working in groups and/or teams. Research has found that working in groups is smarter than as individuals as long as it is

"...autonomous, decentralized and cognitively diverse..."

Michael Shermer, 2004


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