teamwork and group work

What is the difference between teamwork and group work?

Apparently, team and group have no difference with each other. The similarity between team and group is that there are a number of people in both of them doing some activities together, but each of them has a different definition which obliges a different function and different skills for members of a team and a group.

What is a group?

Two or more people who gather together to reach special goals is called a group. The group can be formal or informal. By formal group, we mean organizational structure. In a group, the tasks and duties of each person is specified. The tasks which are specified for each person in this way is called an individual’s task description.

What is a group

Therefore, the behavior and tasks and the path which a person should proceed to reach the group’s aims have been completely specified in an organization or group. As a result, it can be said that a group is a collection of people whose tasks, roles and direction have been totally specified.

What is a team?

It may be said that the only similarity between team and group is that some people are working together, because the other features of team and group are totally different. The most important feature of a team is positive synergy. The issue of positive synergy doesn’t exist in group work at all. In a group, everyone does his assigned tasks, but positive synergy is highly important in team work.

Related: What are the properties of a good teammate?

Positive Synergy: The Most Important Feature of Teamwork

Positive synergy means that everyone’s effort should be in a way that the final result gets more than the result of each individual’s function. If we want the team achieve the positive synergy, team members should possess some properties. These properties distinguishes the nature of teamwork from group work.

Positive Synergy

What are the Required Properties of a Team to Reach Positive Synergy?

Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith who got famous by doing researches on the works of informal organizations believe that the team members are interdependent. In other words, if one member does not do his tasks, it is equal that the team work is not done.

To understand this issue better, consider the cogwheels of a clock. Each member of a team are supposed as one of the cogwheels of this clock. The output of the team is supposed as the movement of clock hands. Now if one of the cogwheels stop working, other cogwheels stop, too. Consequently, the clock hands don’t move.

In views of Mr. Katzenbach & Smith, a team is exactly similar to a clock. Now that the general nature of a team is specified for us, we can explain the necessary features of team members for s successful teamwork.

First Property: Common Goals and Approach

Assume that you decide to establish a novel and knowledge-based business. To start this business, form a team with some of your friends. Now, suppose that one of your friends becomes a member of this team because he intends to take advantage of being exempted from military service. Another member aims to raise his income in short time and your purpose is to internationalize this business.

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Goals and Approach

In your view, is it possible to achieve positive synergy with all these different goals? Is teamwork possible in such a situation? The same thing exists about the performances of team members in doing their tasks. For this reason, it is said the mentality of a team members shall be coordinated with each other respecting aims, approaches and teamwork.

Therefore, before they start their business, the team members should discuss their goals, approaches and generally, their mentality in order to get coordinated. Otherwise, the team members may take some distance from each other while working. This will lead to disintegration of the team.

Another important point is one’s commitment to work; how much a person internally wants to achieve the desirable result. Whether he/she wants to spend all his ability to make a conclusion of that work or not. The level of our demands is one of the items which play a significant role in our success.

Second Property: Different and Complementary Skills

It we want the teamwork achieves the positive synergy, complementary skills are required. We know that every one’s information is incomplete. Presence of different people in a team will help to complete the information. With regard to one’s skills, everybody has a different point of view.

When there are different people with various skills in a team, the whole team finds more viewpoints. This will make the final output of the teamwork gets higher than the sum of outputs by each of the members individually. On one hand, different people have numerous talents.

Third Property: Flexibility

As we said, teamwork is like the task of clock cogwheels. But humans are not like clock cogwheels. In other words, it is not possible to put humans next to each other and assume that they work well like clock cogwheels; because humans have interactions with each other and this will make some problems.


Thus, flexibility is one of the properties that the members of a team should have to do teamwork. This flexibility has something to do with internal problems of a team. As well, the external problems of a team are the same. Some problems may happen for the team and everything doesn’t go on as it is supposed. As a result, the team should have flexibility to external factors in order to achieve the desirable result.

The experiences have shown that when some people with the named properties work together, they are more flexible to changes. This flexibility causes the result of teamwork gets better than group work.

Now, it’s time to work on the properties of each team member. What is the role of members’ intelligence in the success of teamwork? What are the required properties of team members to reach desirable results? How should be the structure of a good team? How should the management and leadership of a team be done? And what kind of connection is needed among the team members in order to have positive effect on teamwork?

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