Managing Teams and Groups Effectively

Unit VII Research Paper

Managing Teams and Groups Effectively


Columbia Southern University

Effectively managing groups and teams is a critical element for any leader. To create and foster a culture of team work, there must be communication, trust, collaboration, accountability, and most importantly, effective leadership. To effectively manage groups or teams within an organization, one must first understand the difference between the two. This research will analyze the methods a leader can use to effectively manage teams and groups within an organization, discuss the differences between groups and teams, the process of evolving a group into a team and the important of organizational culture in that process, effective leadership styles to manage multicultural groups and teams, the benefits and drawbacks of team thinking and group thinking.

While the terms of group and team are used interchangeably quite often, there are subtle but critical differences between the two concepts. In today’s workplace, groups and team concepts are implemented by organizations to help achieve various objectives quickly and efficiently. A group consists of a collection of people who work, cooperate and collaborate with one another in attaining a common goal within a specified timeframe. The identity of the group members remains independent, but they share resources and information with other members. Groups are typically established based on common interests, common expertise, and similar backgrounds. There are two classes of groups, formal groups and informal groups. Formal groups are typically created by the organization’s management team to perform a specific task, while informal groups tend to form naturally to meet the social or cultural needs of the organization. A team is a collection of people who work together to accomplish a specific goal. A team’s motto is that of “one for all and all for one.” A simple description of what defines a team comes from Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith’s book, The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization: “A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed in a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. The most important element of a team is that the team can achieve much more, working together as opposed to individually. The three critical elements for any team, is cohesion, collaboration, and respect.

Several theoretical studies have been conducted to explain how groups can change or evolve over time. In 1965, Bruce Tuckman, published his theory, entitled, “Tuckman’s stages of group development, in which he discussed four stages of group evolution, forming, storming, norming, and performing. All groups undergo this evolutionary process. Forming, also known as the honeymoon stage, is the beginning of the team’s life, where expectations are typically unclear, and team members are asking, what is going to be required and do I want to work with these people. Storming, the second stage of the evolutionary process consist of conflicts and resistance to the group’s goals and team structure. In the third phase, norming, a sense of group cohesion begins to develop. Members are beginning to accept each other, resolving conflicts, making decisions, and completing projects. The final stage, also known as performing, is the payoff stage of the evolutionary process and the group has developed its relationships, structure, and purpose. During the evolutionary process, a leader should determine how to inspire and keep team members motived throughout the evolution process.

It is important recognize how an organization’s culture can impact team evolution and performance. An organization can inadvertently stifle teamwork initiatives if they focus too much on individual achievements. To, make teamwork a part of the organization’s culture, there must be buy-in from all key stakeholders from the top down. Devising as strategy to encourage and reward teamwork can aid in making it a win for the organization.

Culture is vital to the success of an organization. An organization’s culture can obstruct the organization’s growth or lead it to success. The Groupthink vs. Teamthink mentality can stunt an organizations growth or propel it to success. Neck and Manz (1994Neck and Manz (1994) explained “teamthink” as an alternative to groupthink as characterized by cohesive and conforming groups. “Teamthink” offers encouragement of divergent views, open idea expression, recognizing threats and limitations, valuing unique members’ views, and discussion of doubts. Neck and Manz argued self-managing teams can promote these values to encourage better decision making.

Many companies still foster group think at the upper levels of an organization but encourage “teamthink” at the lower levels. This strategy essential creates a double standard to preserve top-down management culture, while encouraging better production from lower levels. There are many positive and negative benefits to groupthink. When groupthink occurs, collaboration is improved, harmony exists, and decisions are made more promptly, however, there are times, when harmony in a group can get in the way of making the tough decisions. The need for harmony tends to lead to rash or quick decision. There are also benefits to “teamthink.” Working in teams increases collaboration and fosters brainstorming, which results in more ideas and suggestions on improvement. The team strategy brings together a group of individuals with different skill sets and experience, which leverages more out of `the box thinking. However, when working in “teamthink,” there tends to be the need for frequent meetings, and decisions can take longer to get buy-in, causing delays in progress. Groupthink and Teamthink both have advantages and disadvantages, however, the key to making both concepts successful, is hiring individuals who can work well in both roles, as an individual, and as a team player.

Another area, where leadership style and organizational culture plays a vital role, is managing a multicultural team. While leading a multicultural team has its rewards, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Leaders must be familiar and open-minded of the different cultures to gain better insight into the employees and how to motivate everyone to work together as a team. Misunderstanding can occur more readily in a diverse team of people due to cultural differences. When people possess different values and are accustomed to certain practices or behaviors, it takes a strong and effective leader to get and keep everyone on the same page. Many cultures are very direct when it comes to address problems, while others focus more on relationship building and take a subtler approach to addressing problems. Team members from diverse cultures may also have to make more effort to acclimate to each other’s style and expectations. Overall, leading a team of culturally diverse people requires the same skills and characteristics as leading any time, but there are certain areas that will need extra attention. Good leadership is so important to the success of an organization, no matter what the team or group dynamics are.


Manz, C. C., & Neck, C. P. (1995). Teamthink: Beyond the groupthink syndrome in self-managing work teams. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 10(1), 7. Retrieved from

Tuckman, B. W., & Jensen, M. A. (2010). Stages of small-group development revisited. Group Facilitation: A Research & Applications Journal, 10, 43-48. Retrieved from n.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=49049910&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Katzenbach, J. R., & Smith, D. K. (1993). The wisdom of teams: Creating the high-performance organization. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press.

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