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Errors in Team Settings

Posted on:4/18/2012
Although errors are made by individuals, most work situations are such that a person is a member of a group or team either directly or indirectly. The distinction between teams and groups is a matter of the degree of formal allocation of roles.

Where several people carry out a single task and each has a specific role, the collection of people is a team. Where the grouping is transitory and informal, it is a group. Thus passengers in a train or aircraft are a group, whereas the crew form a team. In the medical context, the professionals in an operating theater are a team, each with well-defined roles, whereas patients in a waiting room constitute a group.

A common problem and cause of error seems to be the way in which the structure of a team dissolves into an informal group under certain circumstances, undermining the formal patterns of authority and responsibility and losing the cohesion and mutual support that are characteristic of a well integrated team.

On the other hand, situations sometimes arise where individuals are thrown together unexpectedly to operate as a team. In such cases, the advantages of a coherent team are not likely to be found, and indeed, the constraint of a team setting may itself give rise to errors if those involved are unused to working together.

The social dynamics of a group of people performing the same task are unpredictable. If people believe that another will check on whether they have performed a task correctly, the accuracy of performance may be affected.

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