Teamwork Defined

The traditional workplace, with its emphasis on internal competition and individual star performers, is undergoing a transformation. In U.S. businesses, a strong movement toward the use of teams is occurring. Management experts and researchers suggest that a successful organization is characterized by effective teamwork and leadership rather than management. Organizations are realizing the importance of developing teams that can work in a coordinated, efficient, and creative manner.

As a result, managers are responsible for creating, developing, and supporting the cooperative efforts of individuals under their influence. Compiling honest, clear‐eyed evaluations of how these individuals interact is a critical first step to building cohesive, long‐term working relationships. Interactions among employees can be characterized in three ways:

Groups: A group exists almost anywhere two or more people interact or coexist. A group does not have a unified purpose. Many people mistakenly expect that simply working in close proximity to others is enough to allow an effective team to emerge. Not so. Although individuals may be close physically, don't assume that their thought processes or levels of commitment are in sync. Remember that an individual may work simply for a paycheck and exhibit a lack of concern for the organization, its activities, its mission, and its people that is obvious to even the most casual observer. These individuals do just enough to get by, but not enough to make a difference.

Mobs: Unlike groups, mobs have a unified purpose. Mobs of employees often form with the focused intent to challenge, malign, or even sabotage the established order. Although many people think of mobs as chaotic, disorganized, and unstructured, they are actually very purposeful in their actions.

Team: Teams share a common goal. A team is composed of two or more people who interact regularly and coordinate their work to accomplish a mutual objective. Some management experts believe that highest productivity results only when groups become teams.

The major difference between groups and teams centers around how work gets done. Work groups emphasize individual work products, individual accountability, and even individual‐centered leadership. In contrast, work teams share leadership roles, have both individual and mutual accountability, and create collective work products. In other words, a work group's performance is a function of what its members do as individuals, while a team's performance is based on collective results—what two or more workers accomplish jointly.