Management theory has a lot to say about how people in your company work together. Many types of working relationships in a business are relevant to different situations. While a work group is an adequate way to manage some projects, other tasks may demand that you put together a high performance team.


The biggest difference between a work group and a high performance team is what's demanded of the intended project. If the task does not require lots of teamwork but relies more on individual effort, a work group sufficiently answers your company's needs. This might be the case with a group of servers in a restaurant. Collegiality and good relationships are important, but high-level teamwork is not necessary. An example of a task requiring a high performance team might be the care of a critically ill patient in the hospital, where a good outcome depends on the team performance of doctors, nurses and auxiliary staff.


If the employees you're considering are truly dependent on one another to accomplish the task, the best organizational tool is a high performance team. In a team, each member will usually bring a different set of skills, meaning that the collective outcome is greater than any one member could achieve on her own. In a work group, each member may well have the same skill set and merely be servicing different clients or workloads. You can expand the amount of effort available by expanding the work group, but you're not necessarily expanding the available skills for the task.


In a work group, each member is responsible for his own work product and can take either the praise or criticism individually. He need not be concerned if another member of the work group is not performing to the same standard. Conversely, a high performance team must be accountable jointly for the success or failure of the project it's working on; no one individual can be singled out either for blame or special praise.


High performance teams typically require a fair amount of maintenance and attention from management. Their performance process must be analyzed at regular intervals to ensure everything is working smoothly and each member is satisfied with her role. With a work group, while the occasional dispute may arise, management intervention is much less crucial.