Group vs Team: Difference and Comparisons


Meaning of Group and Team

The Group and team are two distinct terminologies, although are mostly used as synonyms for each other. They are similar in the way that both team and group denote the number of people sharing common characteristics. But these terms carry differences from both management and business context. The main difference in between group and team is that group members share similar characteristics whereas team members share a common goal or purpose. Every team can be termed as a group but not every group is termed a team. 

The term group carries a broader meaning. Group relates to several people that are linked with one another via shared activity, quality, or interest. It also denotes the number of people that are together in the same place. Groups can be brought in together for a common aim or they can be informal such as a group of friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc. A team, on the other hand, relates to several individuals associated together in work or activity. All team members carry out their work activities towards the attainment of a common goal or objective. They need to coordinate their activities for reaching the shared goal. Every team member is responsible for a specific task as roles and duties are clearly defined and specified in the team. This way all members are independent as they are assigned certain tasks, in case one task is not carried out properly then it will adversely impact the overall activity or task. 

Difference and Comparison between Group and Team

Basis for Comparison              Group              Team
MeaningGroup is a collection of independent individuals sharing something in common and thereby coming together.  A team represents a group of interdependent people who join hands together for the accomplishment of a specific goal. 
AccountabilityAccountability is Individual.Accountability can be either individual or mutual.
LeadershipLeadership is unstructured.Leadership is structured. 
ProcessThe process involves discussion, decisions, and delegating. The team’s process involves discussion, deciding, and doing.
DependencyIndependent membersInterdependent members
Focus onIndividual goalsTeam goals
Individual GrowthProper training is given but the application is limited. Development of skill and application. 
Decision-Making AuthorityGroup members.Team leader.
Interpersonal UnderstandingThe requirement is not necessary.Required compulsorily.
Level of CommitmentLower.Higher. 
Level of TrustLower.Higher. 
Conflict ManagementManagement is weaker. Management is stronger.
SynergyNeutral or negative.Positive.

Definition of Group

A group is defined as the accumulation of three or more people who work, interact and cooperate for attaining a common goal within a specified period. The people within the group share common motives, interests, characteristics, traits, or situations. They may either have or not have interpersonal interactions among them. The identity of each group member is taken on an individual basis and they share information and resources with other group members. 

In every organization, groups are generally created based on common beliefs, interests, and experience in the same fields and principles, such that they can easily coordinate with one another. Mainly, there are two types of groups: – 

  • Formal Group- Formal groups are the groups formed by the top management of the company for performing a particular task. In every organization, there are multiple numbers of formal groups each one of them focused on the achievement of their task within a specified period.
  • Informal Group- Informal groups get created naturally within the organization, to satisfy the social and psychological needs of humans. Under these types of groups, the people associated with each other to serve their common interests or for self-satisfaction.

Characteristics of Group

Every group contains certain characteristics that differentiate it from a team. Some of these are as explained below: – 

  • Individual Goals- All the members of the group are present to fulfillment of their objectives. 
  • Size and Composition– The size of the group can be small or large depending upon the situation and requirements. However, peoples composed within the group have something in common. 
  • Status- The status of a group is defined by the level to which it is valued in the outer world.
  • Independent individuals- The members of the group are independent and are not reliant on each other for their actions.
  • Individual Accountability– Each member within the group holds personal responsibility for his or her set of actions. 
  • Collective identity– All individuals are together denoted as a part of a particular group. 

Definition of Team

A team is defined as a systematic and organized group, consisting of individuals having competent skills and expertise who gathers together for collaboratively achieve a common goal. All of the team members perform like a single unit taking up the responsibility of task completion mutually. The main agenda of every team is “one for all and all for one”. The building of a team is a well-organized process requiring the proper nurturing of the workgroup. 

Team members hold good mutual understanding with other members, and work collectively for maximizing their strengths as well as reducing their weaknesses by giving compliments to one another. The most crucial feature of every team is “Synergy” due to which it can achieve much more than what members can attain individually. Three features are actively involved in team functioning: Cohesion, Collaboration, and Confrontation. 

Different types of teams are differentiated from one another based on purpose, direction, and interaction: – 

  • Management Team- The management team is a team that comprises departmental heads of a business enterprise and is responsible for managing whole business operations. 
  • Operational Team- The operational team looks after the overall functioning of the enterprise. Members of this team are responsible for fixing all issues that hinder the smooth working of the company.   
  • Troubleshooting Team- The team is composed of people having good problem-solving and analytical thinking. These peoples join together for streamlining the overall process and are therefore termed a troubleshooting team.
  • Self-directed Team– Self-directed team is not led or controlled by any leader or manager. Each member control and directs their actions.  
  • Virtual Team– Virtual teams are ubiquitous in business enterprise that has a global presence. The team members cannot interact with each other directly as they all are located in different countries with distinct time zones. Therefore, the members stay connected via technology, despite varying cultures and languages. 
  • Special Purpose Team- The special purpose team is created for the fulfillment of a specific purpose or project. Such a type of team gets dissolved once the specified task is accomplished.
  • Project Team- A project team similar to a special purpose team, is formed to efficiently execute the given project on time via following a common strategy. This type of team can be further subdivided into the following four types of categories that are: Functional team, Contract team, Multi-functional team, and Matrix team. 

Characteristics of Team

A team is developed out of the group, so what unique features does the team possess?
Here are a few of the important features of the team that differentiates it from a group: – 

  • Common Goal- Each of the members of the team works toward the achievement of a specific team objective. 
  • Leadership- The team involves a clear leadership pattern within it, and the selected team leader heads all of the activities.
  • Team Spirit- The enthusiasm of each team member for reaching out to their team goal is always high.  
  • Interdependency- The actions of team members are jointly dependent on that of other members within the team.
  • Trust- Trust of team members is high such that they rely much on each other’s capabilities and skills. 
  • Leadership- Clear leadership is present within the team and chosen team member leads all activities. 
  • Defined Roles- Every member within the team is allocated specific roles and responsibilities to accomplish within a defined team period. 
  • Collaboration- The level of coordination or synergy is very high among the team members. 
  • Streamline Direction- The team leader is the person who directs other members and monitors their operations from time to time. In case of any wrongdoing, he guides his subordinates and provides them with constructive feedback. 

When does a group become a team?

A group cannot be simply declared as a capable team unless and until it follows the seven principles of team building out of a group in a successful manner. Such principles are as listed in the points given below: – 

  1. Exchange of ideas and opinions- The members of a team should be able to express their views and perception freely, along with considering the inputs provided by other members. 
  2. Participative decision-making– All decisions shall be based on the collective participation and contribution of every team member. 
  3. Conflicts are normal- Conflicts arising within the team are treated as a source of information and generation of innovative ideas. 
  4. Shared ownership of responsibilities- Team members believe that they are collectively responsible for the completion of work or goal achievement, in addition to adherence to the established rules and regulations. 
  5. Mutual understanding– The level of understanding in between team members must be high. Each of them should be aware of each other strengths and weaknesses, and should actively come forward for each other support whenever needed. 
  6. Trust, support, and engagement– Members of the team should have faith in the skills and competencies of each other. Therefore, this way they support and boost the confidence of one another. 
  7. 100% contribution of team members- All members apply both personal as well as professional skills efficiently to their allocated work towards the achievement of the team’s goals. 

Overall, developing a team out of a group needs effective leadership, high synergy, and a great level of enthusiasm. Also, if designing group dynamics is done expertly then such a group can transform into a strong team.