Groups vs Teams – why the difference matters
Within your organisation, there will be groups. These are employees who define themselves as part of a unit. However, you’ll also have teams. These are employees who are working together, towards a specific shared vision. It’s crucial to distinguish between the two, as the latter can be a powerful force if implemented correctly.
You may ask, who is the leader within the team though? Surely it needs a leader? Maybe so but within that team, each person seems to feel that they are a leader at a certain point in time. One person might be the best at something, whilst another is good at another. They are leaders at that something, when that something is needed.
Years ago, Meredith Belbin constructed a useful set of characters to categorise roles within a team dynamic. It is still used today. There are nine roles within a team: Shaper, Co-ordinator, Monitor-Evaluator, Teamworker, Implementer, Completer-Finisher, Plant, Resource-Investigator and Specialist. (Since then, there have been other roles identified too, such as the Networker or the Cheerleader.) Belbin’s theory was that an ideal team had to have those 9 key roleplayers (There didn’t need to be 9 people necessarily).
However, as great as this theory might be on paper. It’s harder to implement in reality. For one thing, how do you identify each role? What if too much crosses over? How likely is it that, you can pick a team by finding completely new people? The fact is, you have to work with the team members you already have.
So rather, than create a dream team from scratch – why not approach it in a different way? Identify the groups within your organisation and then the natural teams within your organisations. The teams will have formed due to a single shared vision that they are aiming to achieve. Facilitate and motivate that vision as greatly as you can and allow them to play to their strengths. If they can achieve a small goal, they will love to achieve a greater goal. A good example is a small local league football team, who plays every week and is determined to be promoted to the next division at the end of the season. The team has gelled around a key goal but will mostly perform with the same average consistency through the season, bar near the end of it. However, that same team up against a Premiership side like Arsenal during a FA Cup round, can suddenly become a giant killer. Why?
Why the difference in performance? Well it’s a team that works well together already but now they have a stronger and more powerful goal. Suddenly their cohesive strength is amplified towards it. (It also helps that Arsenal don’t like shooting at the goal or that their defense falls apart every five games or so). Suddenly the manager can identify an even tighter team from the available squad. One that makes the next challenge even easier to succeed at.
So how are you identifying and amplifying your teams towards a larger shared goal? If not, why not?