What is a Team?

So just what is a team? We have gathered several definitions here. The simplest is that a team is a group of people that works together to achieve collective goals.

Many businesses put out the message that everyone works as a team. But most don’t function as a team in their daily operations. They miss the mark on one or more of these levels:

  • Everyone is not focused on the same goal.
  • Some are not acting according to the good of the group.
  • Communication is not kept open between all members of the group.
What is a team- Puzzle Pieces

You have to hit all three of these things in order to really form an effective team.

So, a better answer to the question 'What is a team?' in the business environment is a group of people who all share the same goals and put the good of the group ahead of themselves when going about their individual tasks. Open communication is essential in allowing this to happen.

We'll discuss these key aspects of a team a little more in a moment. However, here are a few slightly different team definitions that you might also find helpful.

They highlight four aspects of what makes a team different from a group: identity, relationships, interdependence and task accomplishment.

What is a Team?

  • A team is a cooperative unit with its own identity. To be a team, a collection of people must identify themselves as a unit, and others must identify them as a unit as well.
  • A team is more than a group of people. It is a collective of individuals who have a relationship with each other and who all contribute to the working of the whole.
  • A team is a relatively small number of people working collaboratively, who depend on each other and who share the responsibility for achieving a common goal.
  • A team is a group of individuals organized to work together to accomplish a specific objective. Task accomplishment is one of the key characteristics that distinguishes a team from a group. Groups don't necessarily band together to accomplish a goal.

Team Goals = A Common Purpose

What is a team goal used for? For a team to be more than a group of people, there must be a common purpose. Every member of the team should know what the goals of the team are. This way, even though every team member may do different tasks, they are all able to make decisions based on getting the desired outcome for the group as a whole.

Without well stated goals that every team member understands, your team cannot function as one group. Individual decisions cannot be made for the good of the team, since there is no common goal that the team is trying to achieve. The only way to set these goals and guide the actions of the group effectively is for team members to discuss and agree upon desired outcomes.

Team Action = Working Together

What is a team action? When you have an effective team, every member will take action based on the goals of the team. It is only when everyone is using their own strengths to work toward the goal that the goal can be achieved collectively.

When deciding who is on a given team, consider the different aspects of the project or goal at hand. What will need to be done to meet the goal by the deadline? This will tell you who you need on the team according to their personal skills. Ideally, every person on the team should have a clear job that plays up to their individual strengths, skill sets, or expertise.

Team Communications

Communication is what will keep a team functioning efficiently. Every member must know their own part, but they also have to be aware of what other team members are doing. This is how the final result is achieved as one cohesive unit.

Bottom line, a team is a group of people working as one unit to meet a collective goal. This is why they say there is no "I" in teamwork. In a high performing team, every individual member thinks for the good of the group rather than just themselves.

Did You Know?

The word 'team' can be traced back to the Indo-European word deuk (to pull); it has always included a meaning of "pulling together." The original Middle English meaning of 'team' applied to the use of oxen or bullocks yoked together to create a shared force for transporting a heavy load. The modern sense of team, "a group of people acting together," emerged in the sixteenth century. (Source: word-origins.com)

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