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The Anglicism team ( old English : team family, team, group, descendants) describes the union ( collective ) of several people to solve a certain task or to achieve a certain goal:


The term team is used very often in practice and with the most varied of meanings. This versatile use therefore often leads to problems and misunderstandings when introducing and implementing team organization. The associations with the term team comprise the following six dimensions:

  • Experience dimension: All team members see themselves as a community of like-minded people who are on the same wavelength. The aspect of emotional connection is in the foreground.
  • Task dimension: A cohesive level of team members is created through special knowledge and the common objective / technical task setting and challenges.
  • Image dimension: Teams have a marketing aspect for all employees. Anyone who is currently on the team is perceived as popular. This strategic guise often conceals a group of lone fighters.
  • Crisis dimension: In difficult times, teams find each other very quickly and then function very well. However, the team's success is usually limited to the time of crisis and therefore does not last long.
  • Process dimension: This dimension focuses on cross-departmental or cross-departmental teamwork, so the interest of the matter is in the foreground. With this dimension, communication and interface problems can in part be resolved well, which helps a long-term good cooperation between departments.
  • Result dimension: The fascination of a common task and working in a team can inspire an entire team, which often means that individuals are no longer considered and thus success justifies the use of all means.

A team is formed when complex behavior requires interdisciplinary cooperation. Teams are formed for different purposes and objectives with different duration. In this sense, a team is a group of employees who are holistically responsible for a commissioned work and who deliver the result of their work as a product or service to an internal or external recipient.

When it comes to team building, professional competence shouldn't be the only criterion. In addition, it should be analyzed to what extent the chemistry between superiors and employees is right. In this way, personal intolerances can be reduced. In the case of functioning teams, reassignments are conceivable and further successful teamwork is possible.


According to Mabey and Caird, teams are defined using the following main criteria:

  • A team has at least two members.
  • The members contribute to the achievement of the team goals with their respective abilities and the resulting mutual dependencies.
  • The team has a team identity that is different from the individual identities of the members.
  • The team has developed communication paths both within the team and to the outside world.
  • The structure of the team is described in a task and goal-oriented manner.
  • A team periodically reviews its efficiency .

In industrial psychology , the concept of team is idealized by some authors. You see it as particularly work-sharing and performance-oriented working groups. Other authors deny the possibility of a scientifically meaningful separation of the terms “team” and “ group ” (for example Alexander Thomas ).

Teamwork has now gained a foothold in companies. This is justified by the fact that due to increasing complexity, higher pressure to perform and ever better access to information through the spread of electronic media in companies

  • the management has less and less overview of the events and
  • Decision-making responsibility is delegated downwards .

The following can be said about the quality of decisions in groups:

  • Group decisions tend to be better when the members come from different areas and judge independently of one another.
  • But if there is a high degree of mutual understanding or a high level of group cohesion, the “ GroupThink ” phenomenon arises with a tendency towards a “ risk shift ”. Any concerns fall victim to the group mood and are no longer expressed; in half of the cases, groups make riskier decisions than individuals.

The concentration of knowledge and decision-making power with a few is visibly outliving. Until recently, we only talked about employee teams , but today we are increasingly talking about management teams , while core teams are often formed in projects .

Teamwork in companies

In companies, teamwork has increasingly developed into a popular form of collaboration for various tasks since the late 1970s, which has also been reflected in the rapidly increasing research activity on teams since that time. Above all, however, complex tasks that require a wide range of knowledge should be mastered by teams. The following types of teams can include: a. differentiated:

  • Semi-autonomous work teams: Semi-autonomous work groups are a form of regular work organization. In these teams, the tasks are (partially) autonomously distributed and solved. The allocation of resources and time is also the responsibility of the team. Usually a group leader is appointed who takes on the team leadership as an equal. Due to the high level of personal responsibility, there is also no direct superior who can determine the work group. A semi-autonomous team can consist of three to ten members, who at best all have different qualifications.
  • Project teams : Temporary project teams are set up to manage projects . Although project teams are usually only formed for the duration of a task, there are also teams without a time limit. Especially in some technical areas, such as mechanical engineering , one project after the other is implemented, which is why the employees have to work constantly in teams.
    Project teams are formed for tasks that
    • are novel and not routine,
    • are of great importance to the company,
    • consume a lot of resources,
    • are cross-divisional and
    • have clearly defined time, content and cost goals.
  • Optimization team: As you can see from the name, optimization teams are there to improve certain things. Usually the improvement relates to essential company processes. An example of an optimization team is the CIP team. CIP (continuous improvement process) can be traced back to the Japanese concept of Kaizen and is based on the assumption that processes can be improved in small steps and above all by those employees who deal with them on a daily basis. CIP teams are usually moderated externally. The results of the teamwork are documented in the specific work environment and implemented immediately.
  • Task teams: Task teams are also referred to as "task forces" and usually analyze or solve complex or difficult problems and questions of the department or the entire company for a limited time and across departments. These teams can be compared to a volunteer fire brigade that approaches when the fire is on the roof. In some companies, the task force is not only formed temporarily, but remains in place and there may be a change in staff.
  • Virtual teams: As is the case with other teams, the employees of a virtual team work together on an interdependent task that pursues a common purpose. In the case of virtual teams, however, the team members are separated from one another in terms of time, space and organization and communicate using modern communication technology.
  • Management teams : In practice, they don't always correspond to a real team. Although joint meetings are part of the daily planning, the members of such groups are often not involved in running the company together, but each is assigned a special area of ​​responsibility. At best, management teams should try in the sense of the team idea to inspire the rest of the group for the other areas of responsibility and to anchor the idea of problem solving for the entire organization in the team.

Phases of team development

Teams go through different phases. The model below, one of several similar group phase models, was developed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965 :

  • Forming (test phase): In the forming phase, there is slow sampling and getting to know each other, which is characterized by caution and courtesy. There is little communication among the team members and everyone tries to find their task and role in the team.
  • Storming (close combat phase): In the close combat phase, the first conflicts and rivalries arise between team members, subgroups and against the task. This phase is necessary so that a team with a high degree of maturity can emerge from the group. In this phase a team leader (helper) is helpful, who encourages the team to persevere and shows the team the "end of the tunnel".
  • Norming (organization phase ): In the third phase, the team develops new manners and behaviors. Common goals and tasks are exchanged in dialogue and work is organized. A WE feeling arises, which is why power struggles are resolved constructively. Rules are accepted.
  • Performing (work phase ): In the fourth phase, the team is full of ideas, flexible, solidary and efficient. The energy flows into problem solving and the team proves its autonomy and viability for a longer period of time.
  • Transforming (separation and transfer phase ): In the last phase, the team looks back at the team process and takes stock: How can the team process be optimized in the future? Which findings can be transferred to future situations? Etc. Possibly. Planning further activities.

The duration of the phases cannot be predicted, but several months are necessary for team development and training.


The ability to work in a team is a social skill . The common catchphrase in job advertisements describes skills and abilities that the individual needs to work with others.

Conflicts in teams

A group conflict or conflict in a team is spoken of when the conflict has more than three participants. The majority of conflicts arise from the tendency in groups to want to bring members into line rationally and emotionally . In particular, the fact that groups slow down the fast and motivate the slow has not only advantages, but also potential for differences of opinion.

Security and stability are created and maintained within a group through belonging , community and loyalty . These aspects have to be developed over time and can be consolidated through rituals , reward systems and punishment systems. If they are questioned, a group conflict arises. These can be divided into six subspecies:

  • Subgroup conflicts: When forming subgroups, small groups that are formed exclude each other from something and endanger the goals of the whole group. If this threat is not averted, the conflict can lead to the disintegration of the entire team.
  • Rank conflicts: By determining rank positions, order is brought into the social structure of a team and stability is created. Nevertheless, the creation and change of the hierarchy hold potential for conflict. This can often also be observed when new employees join. Only after a certain time is it clear again who is in which position, which calms the situation down again.
  • Conflicts of norms: In teams, the rules of the game are defined themselves, whereby a distinction can be made between official and unofficial norms. A standardization conflict occurs when a member violates this. With the help of a punishment, the group member can be reintegrated.
  • Integration conflicts: The problem of integration conflicts arises in particular with outsiders or new team members. It is the manager's job to ensure that the integration runs as smoothly as possible and that the role in the group context and the activities of the new member are clearly defined.
  • Substitution conflicts : If a conflict is not carried out directly on the original problem, but shifted to a less problematic subject of conflict, it is referred to as a substitution conflict. This can only be solved by recognizing and treating the cause.
  • Loyalty conflicts: A loyalty conflict is when a team member is attacked from the outside and other members do not stand behind the attacked. This endangers the unity of the group and the necessary cohesion is no longer given.


The rule of thumb “There is no I in Team” states that in a team everyone should work together on a task with a common goal. True to the well-known motto: Everyone does what he wants. Nobody what he should, but everyone participates.

In English and German, there are acronyms : The optimistic "Together Everyone Achieves More" and the ironic "Great, e in a nderer m at night."

Web links

Wiktionary: Team  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikiquote: Team  Quotes

Individual references and sources

  2. ^ Haug Christoph V. (2009), Successful in a team, 4th edition, Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, ISBN 978-3406582264 , pages 13-15
  3. Wunderer, Rolf; (2003): Leadership and Cooperation, 5th edition, Munich: Luchterhand Verlag, ISBN 978-3472076070 , page 147
  4. Christopher Mabey and Sally Caird 1999 Building Team Effectiveness Open University, Milton Keynes, ISBN 0-7492-9553-8 , page 7 ff.
  5. a b James Surowiecki (2005), The Wisdom of the Many, Munich
  6. Irving Janis (1972), Victims of Groupthink: psychological study of foreign-policy decisions and fiascoes (2nd edition). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  7. Heinz Jiranek and Andreas Edmüller (2007), conflict management. Munich, Haufe Verlag
  8. ^ Weiss, M. & Hoegl, M .: The History of Teamwork's Societal Diffusion: A Multi-Method Review . In: Small Group Research . tape 46 , no. 6 , p. 589-622 .
  9. ^ Martin Sulzbacher: Virtual Teams. A way to effectively master complex tasks across space, time and organizational boundaries? Tectum Verlag, Marburg 2003, ISBN 978-3-8288-8489-2 , pp. 125ff.
  10. Brounstein Marty: Successfully leading teams for dummies. Wiley-VCH Verlag, Weinheim 2007, ISBN 978-3-8349-1129-2 , p. 37.
  11. Schuhmacher Florian, Roland Gschwill: Employer Branding. Human resources management for corporate management. GWV Fachverlag, Wiesbaden 2009, ISBN 978-3527703265 , p. 126.
  12. Schuhmacher Florian, Roland Gschwill: Employer Branding. Human resources management for corporate management. GWV Fachverlag, Wiesbaden 2009, ISBN 978-3-8349-1129-2 , p. 128.
  13. Brounstein Marty: Successfully leading teams for dummies. Wiley-VCH Verlag, Weinheim 2007, ISBN 978-3-8349-1129-2 , p. 37f.
  14. ^ Martin Sulzbacher: Virtual Teams. A way to effectively master complex tasks across space, time and organizational boundaries? Tectum Verlag, Marburg 2003, ISBN 978-3-8288-8489-2 , p. 81.
  15. Brounstein Marty: Successfully leading teams for dummies. Wiley-VCH Verlag, Weinheim 2007, ISBN 978-3-8349-1129-2 , p. 38.
  16. ^ Bruce Wayne Tuckman: Developmental sequence in small groups. (1965) Psychological Bulletin 63, pp. 384-399.
  17. Willy Christian Kriz , Brigitta Nöbauer (2008), Teamkompetenz, 4th revised and expanded edition, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, pages 60–61.
  18. ^ Haug Christoph V. (2009), Successful in a team, 4th edition, Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, ISBN 978-3406582264 , page 64 ff.
  19. Bettina Thöne-Geyer: On the communication problem of social competence in adult education / further training. (PDF, 152 kB) In: REPORT (27) 1/2004, Literature and Research Report Further Education. Scientific journal with documentation of the annual meetings of the adult education section of the DGfE . Bernd Dewe, Gisela Wiesner, Christine Zeuner, 2004, pp. 164 - 170 , accessed on September 24, 2015 . ISBN 3-7639-1889-2 , report complete
  20. ^ Faix, WG / Laier, A. (1991): Social competence. The potential for entrepreneurial and personal success. Wiesbaden: Gabler, page 62, quote: "Social competence therefore means in human interaction: the extent to which a person is able to act independently, prudently and profitably in a private, professional and societal context."
  21. ^ Schmidt Martin (2010), 25 Tips for Successful Team Management, Books on Demand GmbH, ISBN 3842328370 , page 75 ff
  22. Bohren Meyer Carola, Züger Conrad Rita-Maria (2007), Conflict Management in a Team - Basic Leadership Skills, Theoretical Basics and Methods with Examples, Practical Exercises, Repetition Questions and Answers, 2nd, revised edition, Compendio Bildungsmedien AG, ISBN 978-3- 7155-9336-4 , page 27 ff
  25. Great - someone else does it ?: How you survive teamwork , Rheinische Post, October 11, 2010, accessed on March 3, 2015
  26. TEAM Together Everyone Achieves More (PDF; 54 kB)