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p  OR GROUP?

Are you a team or a group? This is an important distinction and will determine how you

function.

Three criteria distinguish a group from a team:

’ Vo member depends on any other member.

’ Yach member can achieve his or her goals without reference to or help from any other

member.

’ 6roup achievement is the sum of all the individual achievements.

When the team is treated like a group, problems arise. Often management pays lip service to

teamwork, but yet encourages a group mentality. Incentives (awards, raises, promotions) are

usually tied to individual performance rather than team results ʹ these are group building

incentives, not team building ones. And then people wonder why team building exercises don͛t

deliver the performance gains expected. Here are some important areas of difference:




’ 6et the right team ʹ teams vary in personality, maturity, and purpose. Find the one that

fits you and that you fit. Adjustments are always necessary, but, if you can͛t soon feel

like a productive part of the team you͛ve found yourself in, seek another.

’ Fitting in is more important than individual genius ʹ team members build on each

other͛s strengths and can potentially develop a synergy that multiplies results. 6ood

teams don͛t have cookie-cutter members who are all the same. 6ood teams include a

variety members with a diversity of talents and styles, who fit those styles and skills

together to produce good results.

’ Help each other out. Cover weaknesses and join skills and abilities.

’ Collaborate and share good ideas ʹ build on the strengths of each member of the team

’ eek and accept help, especially when you͛re starting out ʹ build on the knowledge and

skills of those who were there before you.

’ Coach each other ʹ teamwork is about giving up power and position and keeping the

mission and desired result in focus. The success of a teammate means you are

successful.

’ Êisten to what the customers (clients, audience, stakeholders) are saying about you and

act on it.

6 

’ 6etting the right individuals is still important; however mavericks and loose cannons are

acceptable if they achieve their individual goals.


’ Ôe as good as you can be so you keep your place.

’ Ôe selfish ʹ don͛t waste time on other team members if they don͛t help you achieve

your ultimate goal.

’ rovide individual incentives.

’ Reward individual success.

’ If you find a magic formula, keep to yourself.

’ If you͛re good, why would you need help or advice?

’ If you achieve your goals, what does it matter what customers think and say about you?

Whether you are a business sales department, an agency, a mission-oriented nonprofit group

or a church, you will progress further and faster with a team than a group. Realize the

difference and structure your group to become a team.

’ Celebrate team success as a team ʹ hold dinners, announcements, awards, picnics, etc.

to celebrate your teamness.

’ hare mistakes and learn from them, as a team. Honestly examine mistakes as learning

tools, with the team taking the responsibility, not singling out members for blame.

’ pread good ideas amongst the team. Remember, their success is your success.

’ Êook out for each other. Team members cover each other͛s backs.

’ When needed, have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Yach team member needs

to feel productive within the team. Clearly define each person͛s role so they are clear

about their responsibility.


’ At other times share the load. Anyone can become overwhelmed.

’ Ymbrace creativity and experimentation. 6ood teams look for those who are willing to

step outside the box.

’ Have a shared view of what success looks like. Are we all going the same direction?

’ upport each other.

’ hare the load of leading.

’ Yncourage each other.

’ tand by each other.

If a team truly has synergy, the progress of the whole will be greater than the sum of the

individual efforts.

Ôill Taylor
Weston County Yxtension Office

pe University of Wyoming is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.