Many so called ‘teams’ are actually ‘groups’. Confusing the two can cause boring meetings and damage ‘team spirit’.
Teams require intensive collaboration and interdependence between people with different skills and capabilities around a common goal (what we at Global Integration call ‘spaghetti teams’) – for example in multidisciplinary problem solving.
Groups consist of individuals with similar skills and capabilities who need to be coordinated but are not regularly interdependent (a hub and spoke model that we call ‘star groups’).
Many managers on our matrix and virtual team training courses come to realize that they are leading groups not teams. This is great news as groups are much easier to manage and communicate to, particularly through technology and across timezones as they require little synchronous (same time) communication.
However, these managers are often reluctant to cancel team meetings as they value the fun and ‘team spirit’ created.
It is common to confuse ‘team spirit’ and ‘team structure’ like this. Groups also need good relationships and a sense of belonging. What they do not need is the intensive sharing or information and updates that a true team needs to do its work.
Group meetings can easily degenerate into largely irrelevant status updates which are only of interest to the individual and the group leader, and are a waste of most attendees’ time.
So instead of sharing unnecessary information in group meetings, we suggest you get straight to the ‘spirit’: allow time for networking, let individuals self-select into small sub-groups to talk about issues of common interest, and make some time to have fun together. We guarantee that will do more to build spirit than sharing what we each did last week.