Corporate Coaching: What is the difference between a group and a team?

“A group is any number of individuals who form a recognizable unit, cluster, or aggregation. Teams are specific groups of people with (it is hoped) complementary skills and abilities who join together to collaborate.” Kets de Vries

Within a team are people with different and complementary function. Their unique functions serve the team’s goals. These individuals are highly inter-dependent.   Each team player is also an individual.

The team is considered “merely” group if people are dependent on being in the group, or have to be in this group (as in families), and conform to groupthink. Groups usually form a leadership that decides unilaterally on how the group exists.

Organizations are groups that may or may not be teams. In a team, its members have each a function. This function serve to support the goals of the team.  The collective functionality of all the members of a team is more than the sum of its members. This means that putting the people together alone does not lead to performance unless the potential function of each individual within the group is realized.

Organizations that have healthy functioning teams experience smoother paths towards performance outcomes.

Read also: What motivates people to work and stay in teams?

How do I know if I’m working in a Team?

  • The people you work with have a high degree of interdependence.
  • The group is geared towards a common goal.
  • The members hold themselves accountable for the outcome.
  • The individuals have unique and complementary skills which make them interdependent.
  • Each member and the team as a whole will be affected by the outcome of the work.


De Vries, M. F. K. (2011). The hedgehog effect: The secrets of building high performance teams. John Wiley & Sons.

Corporate Coaching : What motivates people to work and stay in teams

The motivation to work in a team is often a personal one. Motivation to work in a team is different from simply working for the money.

Being in a team brings along with it a sense of belonging and social interaction. Being identified with a team brings along with it a sense of pride. While teams are formed so as to fulfill tasks for the organization, teams also meet the needs of its members.

The members in a team function together to produce what is much greater than the sum of the number of people in it.

A well functioning team performs. Within this group are unique individuals. A group comprising of unique individuals who have specified tasks which are crucial to their goal is a team. In order for the team to thrive, the authenticity of each member of the team needs to be respected. This means that oftentimes, each member is met with the difference of the other. Sensing differences from oneself is a cause of fear that leads to inter-personal conflict.

Addressing individual needs and fears may well contribute to motivating team membership and performance. Most people have a powerful desire to be part of a group in which they feel recognized and understood. Belonging—being part of a social context—is essential for the development of self-esteem and self-confidence.

It is therefore useful for teams to have the space to reflect on these differences. This is best done with group reflection counseling, best with a professional that is outside the team.

Corporate Coaching: Strengthening Teams within Organizations

A group of people working together does not make a team. Teams are built to perform tasks and fulfill their goals. Teams are also made up of unique individual who are mutually dependent. Each member in a team have a stake in the outcome of the task.

Setting clear, well defined goals

Strengthening the team is like oiling and maintaining a machine. Sometimes the parts need to be serviced, sometimes replaced. However, a machine is not useful if it does not in the first place have a well defined function. If your team suffers from fuzzy goals, and if priorities keep fluctuating, it is time to get this cleared up.

Resolving Conflicts

Conflicts exist. If team members are to stay the long haul, they would need to feel free to be their authentic selves while in the team. However individual differences do rub against each other. These feelings of differences cause anxiety in the members. Anxiety is usually the root of conflicts. Overt conflicts in team is damaging to the persons involved and hurt team function.

Getting a professional from outside the team is instrumental in identifying the conflicts and resolving them.

Attaining real consensus among members

To avoid conflicts, members of the team tend to fake their positions, giving opinions that they do not believe in. False consensus are damaging to the team. In many cases, this leads to bad decisions resulting in losses.

Providing a safe space for members to come clean with their expert views without fear of getting into conflict is a way for avoiding losses due to faulty team decision making. This space can be provided by an external counselor.

Identifying and resolving stalemate in decision making

Since individuals are different, these different point of views may lead to stalemate in decision making. When this happens, it is a sign that people have a stake in what is going on and are interested in the outcome. This reaches stalemates and slow dow the decision making process. Providing a safe space for dialogue is the way to overcome stalemates.

Enquiring non-Participation or passivity of members

When individual differences are not perceived as being appreciated or accepted, the underlying need is for the individual to disappear from the scene. Disgruntled or disillusioned members of the team may lose interest in what is going on. This will not be explicitly said, but acted out. People become passive and/or simply not show up.

Non activity of members in a team holds up the work process. Providing space for communication about the cause of disgruntlement and disillusionment is a way to improve member morale. It is also an opportunity for open dialogue about the participation of the member.

Leveling out uneven attribute of importance

Hierarchy is a part of organization. In a team, even though there is hierarchy, the members share equal importance to each other. If there is imbalance or discrepancy in the attitude of the team to individual members, this would lead to conflict and passivity mentioned above.

Member feedback and communication with each other are curative ways of dealing with imbalance of appreciation of the importance felt by members to each other.

Looking out for lack of mutual accountability

A functioning team is made up of members, all of whom are responsible individually for the outcome of the tasks. Members who fail to be accountable can hold back the work flow. Usually people have a reason for not feeling accountable or not wanting to be accountable for their parts. This is worth working through during counseling sessions.

Team Maintenance

Like any machine, the team needs care and maintenance. This comes in the form of taking care of the humanity that is involved in the team. Providing a space and time for counseling by a professional outside the organization is an effective way of achieving this.

AuthornikhPosted onMay 5, 2019Tagscorporate counselingworking with teams