Group vs. team: What’s the difference?

Team Asana contributor imageTeam AsanaOctober 14th, 20214 min read
facebooktwitterlinkedin
Group vs. team: What’s the difference? Article banner image

Summary

A group is a collection of individuals who coordinate their efforts, while a team is a group of people who share a common purpose. In order to improve working relationships, it’s important to understand the differences between the two to encourage healthy working dynamics. Learn more.

Whether you’re a new team or an existing group, creating an enjoyable workplace that practices transparent communication is key. Surprisingly enough, there is a big difference between leading a group vs. a team. 

While they may seem similar, there are many key differences between the two that can affect the way you work.

In order to improve your working relationships it’s important to understand the differences between a group vs. a team and how to encourage healthy communication styles in the workplace. 

Group vs. team

A group is a collection of individuals who coordinate their efforts, while a team is a group of people who share a common goal. While similar, the two are different when it comes to decision-making and teamwork. 

Groups vs. teams

In a work group, group members are independent from one another and have individual accountability. On the other hand, in a team, team members share a mutual accountability and work closely together to solve problems. These dynamics inform the way tasks are handled and overall collaboration. 

Try collaboration software from Asana

What is a group?

In short, a group is a number of people who work together. They have individual goals that they work toward collectively. While groups work toward separate goals, they have a related interest or identity that brings them together.

What is a group?

There are two types of groups: informal groups and formal groups. Informal groups are formed naturally around common interests, identities, or social goals. Formal groups are created by company leaders to perform a specific task for an organization.

Group advantages

There is some debate about whether groups or teams are better. The reality is, both have advantages and disadvantages, and it’s up to you to decide which one is best for your needs. Here are some advantages of groups:

  • Groups build temporary relationships: Since groups focus on individual members working in parallel to one another, they build temporary working relationships such as short-term external projects or temporary internal consulting. 

  • Groups are great for efficiency: While teams work to create efficiency for the greater good, groups focus on individual efficiency. This can improve effectiveness when looking at individual work and larger group objectives. 

  • Groups focus on individual growth: Since groups support individual work, they also focus on individual growth. This can be seen in the form of individual experts rather than a team of experts.

While working in a group environment has its advantages, it also has some disadvantages, too. Let’s look at some reasons why working in a group might not be right for you. 

Read: Efficiency vs. effectiveness in business: Why your team needs both

Group drawbacks

While groups support individual work and career growth, they don’t share all of the advantages of working in a team setting. These disadvantages include not connecting work to goals and the lack of team bonding. 

Here are some disadvantages of working in a group:

  • Groups can alienate individuals: Since groups work individually, there isn’t as much time spent on team building. This lack of teamwork can alienate individuals and cause communication issues. 

  • Groups don’t support organizational goals: Likewise, this lack of teamwork can cause a gap in organizational clarity. This makes it difficult to connect work to organizational goals and objectives. 

These disadvantages are why some organizations prefer working in teams. That’s why it’s important to also understand the advantages and disadvantages of teams.

What is a team?

A team is a number of people who work together to accomplish a shared purpose or goal. Each team is the sum of its parts, which means members of the team rely on one another to accomplish the outcome. 

What is a team?

Teams work together to solve problems, create new products, and other functions such as aligning passions and purpose. There are a few different types of teams, including cross-departmental teams, process teams, and self-managed teams. Each of these differs slightly but shares similar advantages and disadvantages. 

Team advantages

Working in a team environment has many advantages that all come back to working toward the same goals and supporting members in a shared experience. Many organizations work in a team setting vs. a group setting as they prefer the advantages of collaboration. These include improved productivity and quicker problem solving. 

Here are some advantages of working in a team:

  • Teams build on collaboration and synergy: Teamwork can increase collaboration and synergy. These help support the overall goal and can aid in communication and organizational transparency. 

  • Teams encourage group productivity: While groups aid in efficiency, teams have the advantage when it comes to productivity. This is because team members support each other’s work and help solve the overall problem, making the actual work more productive

  • Teams are better for problem solving: It’s true that the more people brainstorm together, the better. This is why teamwork can help solve problems quicker and more effectively the first time around. 

The advantages of working in teams can help organizations thrive thanks to teamwork and communication. That said, there are some disadvantages you should consider as well. 

Read: Beyond the buzzword: How to build team synergy

Team drawbacks

While teams have a variety of advantages, they also have some disadvantages. These disadvantages include struggling to support individual growth and efficiency issues. 

Here are some disadvantages of working in a team:

  • Teams don’t always focus on individual growth: While not always the case, some teams struggle with fostering individual growth. This is because results are most commonly focused on the greater good than what’s best for each person. 

  • Teams may struggle with efficiency: Teams have the advantage of productivity, though they can struggle with efficiency if the right organizational processes are not put into place. This can cause work to take longer than expected and deadlines to be missed. 

While teams might struggle with these disadvantages, there are ways to minimize the effects with the right processes and leadership. The key is to facilitate organizational clarity that supports both teams and individuals. 

How to lead groups vs. teams

Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of groups vs. teams, you may be wondering how each translates into an organization. This is an important question to consider when gauging how to lead a group or team in your current organization.

Group-focused organizations: 

When it comes to group organizational behavior, there is a lot to consider based on functionality and group dynamics. Group dynamics describe the interactions, attitudes, and behaviors between a set of people. These can negatively and positively affect teamwork depending on how they’re set up. 

Healthy group dynamics consist of fluid collaboration and transparency. Unhealthy group dynamics might consist of a lack of teamwork which results in individual isolation. To prevent unhealthy group dynamics, implement a team-focused strategy that focuses on breaking down communication barriers. 

Group leadership tip: To prevent communication issues, organize team building games to encourage group collaboration and healthy dynamics.

Team-focused organizations: 

Organizations that are focused around team dynamics tend to have more transparency and fewer communication issues. This is because teams work together toward a shared goal and focus on problem solving together. 

This leads to a healthy organizational behavior and positive interdependent relationships. To take this one step further, keep collective goals in sight, and empower your team to rely on one another to meet those objectives. 

Team leadership tip: Communicate both project goals and business goals to create transparency and align work with relevant objectives. 

Spark collaboration by transitioning from group to team

The dynamic that’s right for your team won’t be the same as everyone else. That said, team dynamics can help empower collaboration in the workplace and interdependent relationships. 

Whether you lead groups vs. teams, always remember to keep individual growth in sight and encourage communication to improve productivity. 

Looking for additional ways to increase productivity? Asana helps keep track of task management and keeps everyone organized in a shared workspace. 

Increase your productivity with Asana

Related resources

Article

Building a cross-functional team: 9 tips and benefits