There are many situations where team working is desirable.

The basic purpose of a team is to solve complex problems through

  • A diverse team of specialists.
  • The concept of synergy 2+2=5 - the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts

What is a team?


A team can be defined as any group of people who must significantly relate with each other in order to accomplish shared objectives.

Teams usually:

  • share a common goal
  • enjoy working together
  • commitment to achieve goals
  • diverse individuals
  • loyalty to the project
  • have a sense of 'team spirit'.

A team is therefore a formal group. It will have its own culture and leader and will be geared towards achieving a particular objective.

The difference between a group and a team

An effective team can be described as 'any group of people who must significantly relate with each other in order to accomplish shared objectives'.

In order to ensure that the group is truly an effective team, team members must have a reason for working together. They must need each other's skills, talent and experience in order to achieve their mutual goals.

A team is a formal group. It has a leader and a distinctive culture and is geared towards a final result.

We can establish the differences between groups and teams by observing their behaviour.

In teams:

  • there is more openness and trust
  • feelings are expressed more freely
  • there are common objectives
  • process issues are part of the work
  • conflict is worked out
  • decisions are by consensus
  • commitment can be very high.

In groups:

  • people accommodate each other
  • people negotiate
  • objectives may be modified
  • the process issues are often covert
  • politics are rife
  • commitment can be high.

As a way to ensure that the team welds together to become an effective unit, you might look for evidence of successful team-building.

Team effectiveness

Effective teamwork

Woodcock has described some features of effective teamwork, which include the following:

  • There is the right balance of skills, ability and aspiration.
  • Mistakes are faced openly and there is no 'scape-goating'.
  • There is pride in success, support and trust in personal relationships.
  • There is a high level of task achievement.
  • Openness and honesty is present.
  • There is healthy competition.
  • There is a happy feel to the place and good relationships with other departments.

The characteristics of an ineffective team

Blockages to an effective team:

  • inappropriate leadership
  • unqualified membership
  • unconstructive climate
  • unclear objectives
  • poor achievement
  • ineffective work methods
  • insufficient openness and confrontation
  • undeveloped individuals
  • low creative capacity
  • unconstructive relationships between team members.

While the formation of teams is normally seen as being a positive factor within an organisation, if groups become ineffective they can have a negative impact on the business. This can occur in several ways:

  • Team goals may differ from those of the organisation - there may, for instance, be pressure on individuals within a group to not perform too well as this may cause problems for less productive team members.
  • The team may become too inwards looking - the team may focus on its own needs and interests and can potentially become hostile to those outside the group. This would disrupt the overall coordination of the organisation.
  • Group pressure to conform - members of a tight-knit team may agree to decisions that they know are wrong merely because other members of the group support them and they wish to 'fit in'. This could lead to problems for the organisation.
  • Lack of individual responsibility - because responsibility for decision-making is shared between all the members of the group, teams will often make riskier decisions than individuals would. This may not benefit the organisation.
  • Social interaction - when individuals within a group become friendly with each other, group meetings may become mere social gatherings. Little may be accomplished, wasting business time.
  • Lack of individual performance measurement - as the group is assessed on their total output as a team, some individuals may put in less effort than normal because they can hide behind more productive team members.

Managers may need to examine teams for these problems and take corrective action as necessary.

Research and theories relating to teams

There is much research and many theories relating to team working and team effectiveness. In this knowledge bank we focus on the following:


Belbin at the roles people adopt within a group context and suggested an ideal blend of group roles to give an effective group or team.


Tuckman argued that teams tend to progress through a number of defined stages in their development. Understanding these stages and the challenges they present will assist managers to improve team effectiveness.

Peters and Waterman

Peters and Waterman identified five key aspects of successful teams which can then form a blueprint for future teams or for diagnosing problems in existing teams


Created at 8/9/2012 1:13 PM  by System Account  (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London
Last modified at 11/13/2012 5:24 PM  by System Account  (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London

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