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Section 1 Teams or Groups

Section 2 Team Formation

Section 3 Group Development

Section 4 Workings of a Group

Section 4 Team Roles                                                    

Description:  This unit provides an introduction to the formation and functioning of teams or groups.

Author: Gates MacBain Associates

Section 1  Teams or Groups

A team is a group of people in which the individuals share a common aim and in which the jobs and skills of each member fit in with those of the other members. The technical skills and personal abilities of its constituent members should be complimentary. 

Work groups may be either temporary or permanent. A temporary team is formed for a specific purpose which disbands once the purpose or task has been achieved. Task forces and project groups belong to this category. A permanent team remains in existence and new members are recruited to replace members who leave. 

The word team conjures up for most people the sports team, football, cricket: Though it actually comes from the Anglo-Saxon meaning family. Originally it was a applied to a number of oxen harnessed together in a row, as it was found that they pulled better if they were related. This then was used for horses and then people who were involved in a concerted action.

Section 2  Team Formation

Aims and Objectives

At the end of this section you should be able to: 
  • Justify the reasons for a team being formed.
  • Explain the factors to be considered in the formation of a team.

Reasons for a Team The first thing to establish prior to forming a team is to determine if it is needed. This will incorporate determining: 
  • What tasks will the team carry out
  • Why this can not be done by an individual
  • How many people will the team require
  • What skills will be required

A team will often evolve due to an individual finding that the task he is doing is too big for him alone, in the time that he has available, and will therefore seek help. We need to consider how to: 
  • get the right people in the team;
  • get them to work together;
  • raise their standard of performance.
Any member of a group must have the desire and ability to work effectively as part of a team. 

Members in an effective team must be able to be flexible and carry out a number of functions.  


The formation of the group will normally involve the original person, who frequently is its leader, obtaining additional people, he will then have to get to know their abilities and characteristics. 

The most important factor in the successes of a team is selecting the right personnel, although it is probable that some restraints will be placed on the team former in the places he can recruit his team from, the type or grade  he can have as well as the constraints of time and finance under which he can operate. 

The abilities which teams members must have will depend on the tasks to be undertaken, though consideration will be given to the following headings: 
  • Technical or professional competence - the person must possess the skill of knowledge which will be needed by the team.
  • Ability to work as a team member - eliminate people who are non-workers or who are disruptive. If a person is not motivated he can have a negative effect on the other members of the team. Harmony in a group is fragile enough without inserting a disruptive personality.
  • Desirable personal attributes - team members must be able to get on with other people, especially within the team. There manner and behaviour must be an acceptable norm for the other members of the team. Desirable attributes may be the ability to listen to other peoples ideas and build on their contribution. This will mean someone who can share their resources and their ideas and any credit or praise. People will always work better with people they like.
It is advisable to see a person in action within a team situation before they are recruited or to have them on recommendation by other members who have worked with them. 

A team may be formed by the leader who is able to select the personnel he requires, alternatively, the team may be formed for you as in the case of the armed forces who post people into positions. 


Self-Assessment Task

  • List the factors which you would consider prior to forming a team.
  • Describe the workings of a group.

Section 3 Group Development

Aims and Objectives

At the end of this section you will be able to: 
  • Explain each of the stages relating to the development of a group.

There are four stages in the development of a group, these are known as Tuckmanís four-stage model and involves: 
  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Performing
  Group Structure Task Activity
 Forming Lays the foundation for the group, its standards of behaviour, the role of its leader and members. The task is determined and how it will be approached.
 Storming Conflicts develop between sub-groups. The leaders authority or competence may be challenged. The feasibility or value of the task is challenged.
 Norming The group begins to harmonise and form as a unity.  The norms accepted by the group emerge and members begin to support each other.  Co-operation begins between members.  Plans are developed to achieve the task. Communication between members develops.
 Performing A group structure develops and roles are acquired by members in order that the task can be worked on. The work on the task is developed. 

Self-Assessment Task

  • Explain each of the four stages of Tuckman's model.

Section 4  Workings of a Group

Aims and Objectives

At the end of this section you should be able to: 
  • Explain the factors which determine the successful workings of a group.

People tend to work better in a team, both from the sociological and from the efficiency point of view, for we are, after all, increasing the abilities, brain power and experience which is available.  

Teams need to be able to:
  • Co-operate
  • Co-ordinate
  • Communicate
Winning or losing can have an effect on the way that a group sees itself. If it wins it becomes confident. It can, however, also have a negative point in that it reinforces the way that the group sees itself making it harder for the group to change and thus remain winners. Defeat can make them reassess themselves and thus consider change. 

It is important that any group establishes working relationships with other individuals, groups and the organisation of which it is part. 

Within a group there is both a formal and informal structure. The formal structure is that which is recognised by all outside the group and represents the division of labour amongst the group members, ie. rank, appointment. The informal structure determines how individuals exert their influence on the groups activities according to their prestige, power or persuasiveness.   

The effective and efficient working together of all concerned in a venture maximises the chances of success. 

Working in groups also benefits the less able as they will have the benefit of the other members contribution who are more knowledgeable and skilled. 

Teambuilding also involves allowing the members time to build informal relations, consequently if a group plays together, it stays together. Time to socialise is therefore important in building a team spirit. 

The tasks can be worked on as a group problem or they can be broken down and worked on by subgroups.  

The members of the group can make three types of contribution:     
1.     Correct suggestions        
2.     Correct criticism        
3.     Trigger suggestions 

It is not the group that creates the ideas, this is done by the individuals within the group, either by their selves or with the stimulation of another member. The group then, if it accepts the idea, builds and develops it. 

The most important thing is information, this can be broken down into:  
  • the task itself and information which will enable the group to find a solution to the problem or determine how the task is to be carried out, and
  • the parameters, this includes the time factors and resources which are involved and the priority of activities.
The history of the group in terms of its past successes and failures has an important bearing on the morale of the group. 

The sense of sharing also has the effect of binding people together. 

The amount of time that the group spends together is crucial in its formation as it takes time to get to know others and build a relationship. It also takes time for the group personality to take shape. 

The more that a person participates in the group activity the more they will become involved in the group. 

Quietness of a member should not be taken as disinterest; it is possible that there is a reason for the not contributing. 

Groups can develop an unspoken language where each knows that the other is thinking, they may also develop their own specialized vocabulary or private jokes.  T

here can also be a reluctance to allow new-comers into the group.     


All groups will have set procedures in order to ensure that things get done. The way that these procedures are implemented will have an effect on such things as the groups atmosphere, participation and cohesion.       

Cohesiveness   The cohesiveness of the group is determined by the strength of the bonds which bind the individual members of the group into a unified whole. This is dependant on such things as morale and team spirit. It is also related to the strength of commitment and interest in the group and the tasks which it has.   

Cohesion is influenced by the following factors:   
  • Physical proximity - If people work closely together they tend to form a group.
  • Length of time together - If a number of people are together for a length of time, the longer they are together the more they will work together as a team.
  • Similar work - Those carrying out the same sort of work are able to assist and help each other thus forming a bond.
  • Homogeneity - People work better together if they share such characteristics as, race, age, sex, social status etc.
  • Communication - It is important that members can communicate with each other.
  • Size - Small groups of under 15 members are more likely to develop cohesion than larger groups.


Self-Assessment Task

  • Explain the main factors that will affect the ability of a team to function effectively.

Section 5  Team Roles

Aims and Objectives

At the end of this section you should be able to: 
  • Explain the roles of individuals within a group.

A great deal of work has been carried out looking at the roles of people within a group by such people as Belbin, Benne and Sheats. Within a team there are two types of individual role:
  • Functional role as assigned by the structure of the organisation e.g. head of department, deputy etc. 
  • Team role as played by the individual within the team, the role of the person within the team will depend on the persons personality and you will find out about these by visiting the websites below.


Self-Assessment Task

  • List and explain the roles that individuals can take on within a group.

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