When is a group a team?

Our first class taught me that anyone can form a group, but it’s not as easy to form a team. The terms “group” and “team” are often used interchangeably, but are actually two separate concepts. Levi defines a group as a collection of people with some type of relationship to one another, but a team is a “special group of people who work interdependently to accomplish a goal” (Levi pg. 3-4). Teams have a common goal, purpose, and mutual acceptance of one another. Creating a successful team can take a while to develop, but once they’re formed, they can become powerful forces in an organization. Levi argues that successful teams have the power to control parts of business operations and can be given decision-making abilities depending upon the org culture (Levi pg. 16). Teamwork is much more of a process than I originally thought and it largely depends on the composition of the group.

Prior to our group assignments, I had some of the common reservations about being “assigned” a group to work with out of my own choosing. I love working in groups and teams and strongly believe in the value of teamwork to accomplish performance goals, but I am use to working with people I know. I worried about about the possible group dynamics with people I never met. I also initially doubted the shoebox idea since I thought a 10 minute verbal introduction could serve the same purpose. After presenting and hearing about other student’s shoebox items, I realized how wrong my assumption was. The shoebox idea quickly started conversations about personal and professional topics that wouldn’t normally have been brought up had we done our typical introduction. The thought that was put into each item allowed us to connect to our group members on a deeper level, which is at the heart of developing a team. We need to be able to trust and accept one another prior to any task. The shoebox idea was the perfect way to be able to start that process.

My group is made up of all hard-working females who have already had multiple jobs. We each have our own unique interests, which I think compliment one another. A successful team has to have group members with both task and interpersonal skills. I’m looking forward to breaking down various aspects of group and team development, especially in an organizational context. I find group dynamics an interesting topic of study. Since I’ve never studied teamwork from a psychological point of view, I think this class will not only help strengthen my teamwork skills, but my facilitation skills as well. Perhaps my last blog will answer the question, “when did my group become a team?”

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One thought on “When is a group a team?

  1. Just reading this now (sorry I missed it earlier!) but it’s neat to look at this “forming stage” reflection, given that we have now entered the “celebration” phase and have come to the end of our course. I, too, was skeptical about the shoebox exercise, thinking it would be just as effective, and easier, to “just talk.” However, not only were the visual aids helpful in starting conversations and remembering relevant attributes to each person, the preparation of assembling the shoebox proved to be a helpful reflective exercise, reminding me of the self-reflection recommended by Schwarz before engaging in any difficult conversation! In fact, I have learned to value the forming stage of any team, whether pre-assigned or self-selected, and have you lovely ladies to thank for having such a positive experience!

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