do you have a workgroup or team

Your Manager says “we’re a team” but something just doesn’t feel right because no one works together.  Everyone is completing their own assignment. There is neither  coordination  nor discussion.  Their tasks aren’t related to yours and vice-versa.  Nothing has occurred to train employees in collaborative workforce development and collaborative working. So, do you have a workgroup or team?

Reality check:  You are not on a team or collaborative working.

The most high performing teams are a small group of three to five employees interdependently working towards a common goal and leveraging their skills, strengths, and areas of expertise.  This is a team.

What many of us define as “teams” are, in effect, “working groups”.  Perhaps this is one of the problems managers face as they strive to coordinate the activities of remote employees.  Leading a team and directing employees require different skills. When I train managers, independent consultants and leadership coaches to use the TIGERS 6 Principles tools and resources, they learn to build teams like these for the efficient and swift outcomes small teams provide.

A workgroup is simply a group of people in the same place, working on different things.   All teams are workgroups.  But not all workgroups are teams.

Workgroups don’t collaborate on a common goal. Instead, they work independently to achieve individual objectives. Teams on the other hand work collaboratively and are able to achieve more productivity and engagement according to Gallup studies. According to one report, five to eight member teams maximize employees’ potential. The result is better  decision-making  and problem-solving, communication, engagement, accountability, and productivity.

Answering the the question, do you have a workgroup or team is the first step when developing a training program or launching a company-wide campaign.

You have a workgroup if:

  • Your role as a manager is to assign tasks, monitor outcomes for each person, and ensure that processes are uniform;
  • The individual members have identical or similar job descriptions
  • Individual members are independent of each other in delivering results;
  • When someone doesn’t report for work, the rest are not prevented from completing their tasks (even if the production in terms of quantity is reduced); and
  • Results zero in on individuals, some of whom deliver higher quantity and/or quality than others.

On the other hand, you have a team if:

  • The members of the group are interdependent on each other to come up with a product or a service;
  • The success of the team depends on each person bringing their “contribution” or part of the puzzle so that the project can be completed in a certain way; (the most concrete example for this are doctors, nurses, and specialists in a hospital working on a patient’s case.)
  • We aren’t splitting hairs by drawing the line between teams and workgroups.  The difference is of great consequence in terms of  accountability, purpose and group dynamics.

Splitting hairs

With a workgroup, you are left to your tasks.  Failures and achievements are your own. Mess up and you cry alone.  Succeed and you receive credit.

In a team, you get the support of a group even if you are held accountable for the work assigned to you. Failure means that the team (as a whole) has failed.  The individual isn’t solely to blame.  The responsibility to help those in trouble rests on the shoulders of the team.  If the project finds success, the whole team claims it.  Think of it as a sport. The individual doesn’t win or lose.  The whole team does.

When it comes to purpose, a workgroup’s is the same as the organizational purpose.  There is no other goal than the organization’s default objectives.  To put it bluntly, the workgroup is there to simply work.  On the other hand, a team’s raison d’être is the goal itself.  The whole point is to accomplish a goal (which may be something the team has agreed upon or assigned to them).  The objective is specific to the work the members do.

As to group dynamics, workgroups’ meetings are admittedly efficient because the leader dictates the flow.   Information flows down from the manager or leader.  Rarely does it flow up.  If open communication is practiced, the leader has the final say.  (Before you mock workgroups, do take note that in many scenarios this type of efficiency is required.  Therefore, workgroup dynamics aren’t necessarily a bad thing.)

With teams, problem-solving and decision-making are discussed.  Everyone works out the solution through consensus or predetermined decision-making ground rules.  Everyone has the opportunity to be heard.  Knowledge and information are disseminated to everyone.  As a result, everyone claims ownership.

Why do some organizations discourage teams?

Hight performance teams are very effective for achieving organizational goals and tasks identified in both long and short term strategic plans, for innovation, and profitable outcomes.  However, workgroups do have their place under the sun.

Workgroups function best for exigencies.  An urgent need or demand such as the sudden lockdowns associated with the pandemic. operated well though individuals completing their tasks. However, tech innovation that coordinates group process for teams and across business units has been profound. In my view, it now boils down to leadership mindset and the improved leadership skills required for facilitating and leading teams. 

My preference for teams is reflected not just in this blog but in my life’s work as the researcher and then developer of the TIGERS 6 Principles.  The six principles, trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk resolution and success have revolutionized numerous organizations that transformed their individualistic workgroups into high performance teams.  Teams are superior  when performance, accountability and complex decision-making and plan execution are required.  Organizations benefit when the expected results dependent on quality and opinion.

Teams are powerful.  Teams built Facebook and put men on the moon.  It enabled organizations to redirect and survive months into lockdown.

At TIGERS we teach managers to build high performance teams and to coach team performance because the magic happens when trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk resolution and successful achievements are present. I find delight in the collaboration I see when individuals understand how, when they work together, they all feel accountable for the outcome. The effects aren’t just visible on the organization’s financials.  The overall attitude and culture become more sustainable and scalable, too.

Learn how to empower your teams to optimize performance.  Have the TIGERS 6 Principles™ tools and resources at your disposal to build and facilitate high performance teams. We teach you how to use effective tools throughout your organization. Schedule a call to learn more. 

Care to take this conversation, Do You Have A Workgroup or Team, further?

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Copyright, TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

leading accountable decision-makingAbout TIGERS Success Series, Inc.

TIGERS® Success Series provides a comprehensive and robust system for improving both your work environment and profitability.  We specialize in  management facilitation methods that build workforce cooperation and high performance team dynamics. Scaled to grow as your organization and leadership performance grows, our proprietary Team Behavior Profile and  leadership training workshops are based on the six principles we have found to be the right mix to make this happen. The six principles are Trust, Interdependence, Genuineness, Empathy, Risk and Success. Born from our many years of business, psychology, and educational group dynamic research, and subsequent four years of independent evaluation, we instill and sustain behaviors that improve work group performance and talent retention for measurable ROI. Since 1987, TIGERS has served committed leaders who desire enhanced cooperation among departments, teams, managers and individual employees. This heightened level of cooperation leads to improved revenue, purpose, commitment and impact. Employees quit companies because they don’t get along with leaders and co-workers. Work culture refinement and behaviors that build strong relationships erase this trend remarkably fast.  For more information call 1+541-385-7465 or visit .