There are many different types of groups, likely more than you may be aware of. In this lesson, we will explore the various types of groups and how they are defined. We will also look at how or why they form, as this will give us a better understanding of their focus and design.

A Group by Any Name

Okay. We have a gaggle of geese, a flock of birds, and a herd of elephants. Heck, we even have a battery of barracudas, a bed of clams and – yes – even the dreaded bask of crocodiles. What do all these things have in common, you might ask? They are all groups of animals, but they all have different names because they are associated with different types of animal groupings. Carry that thought over into the business world and you will find we have different types of groups as well. These various groups have different names that are based on how they function or the makeup of their members.

Types of Groups

So, if each group has a different name based on its function or the members that make the group up, it is important that we identify and define the varying types of groups. Doing this will help us to understand (first) what type of group we might be in ourselves and (second) what type of group we might need for a specific project. The different types of groups are:

Informal Group: Informal groups are those that develop somewhat naturally among people. They are not as rigid or as structured as other types of groups and are not formed due to any type of organizational structure or need. An example would be if you have a group of individuals at work that all like playing chess, they might get together at lunch to do so from time to time.

Formal Group: Formal groups are the opposite of informal groups. They are groups that are developed out a specific need, have a formal structure and usually have a specific objective in mind when they are formed. Typically they are formed by an organization and given a specific task to accomplish that will benefit the company.

Command Group: This type of group can be looked at like commandos. They accompany a leader on a specific mission. For example, a company executive is doing a presentation to a customer and needs to have an engineer and an installation technician present during the presentation. The engineer and technician make up members of the command group. For this type of group, they have multiple tasks to accomplish – as opposed to a task group, which usually has only one task to accomplish.

Task Group: A task group has one specific task to accomplish, and it is clearly and specifically defined. They differ from a command group in that a command group is assembled to help a leader with a specific job that could be general in nature (say, doing a presentation), whereas a task group has a specific task they are focused on and need to accomplish.

Interest Group: Interest groups are groups that usually are formed to deal with some type of public policy. You may have heard the team ‘special interest group,’ and that really is the basis of this group type. They are formed and organized into a formal structure and share a common concern, such as the environment or taxes.

Friendship Group: Finally, we have friendship groups that are made up of employees who like each other’s company and socialize both inside and outside of work. These groups can help employees to bond together with similar likes outside of work, which can translate to better teamwork while at the office.

Lesson Summary

As you can see from the definitions of these groups, different ones are assembled for different reasons and results. They can range from being very formal and specific to being very informal and unstructured. Each has their goal or objective, even if that objective is only to be social and has no real business connection at all. So, while they might not be a murder of crows or a pride of lions, they are all unique in their own way as it relates to their makeup, their functions and their goals. So to recap:

Informal Group: Developed somewhat naturally among people.

Formal Groups: Developed out a specific need, have a formal structure and usually have a specific objective in mind when they are formed.

Command Groups: Accompany a leader on a specific mission.

Task Group: Has one specific task to accomplish, and it is clearly and specifically defined.

Interest Group: Formed to deal with some type of public policy.

Friendship Group: Employees that like each other’s company and socialize both inside and outside of work.

Learning Outcome

After watching this lesson, you should be able to define different groups and explain reasons why they form.