If you landed on this blog post, chances are that you already know about team building. However, it’s high time to get to know team building’s older sister: Team development. Doesn’t ring a bell? While team building is great to strengthen the bond within a group of people, team development is where the magic really happens. Areas like communication, resilience, agility and mutual respect cannot be fostered by fun interactions only.
Intrigued? As team development enthusiasts, we have the answers you are looking for. We’ll give you a quick introduction to the world of team development, followed by our personal insights on how team development can work out in a remote environment. We’ll also touch on some important models in team development, and explain how team leaders can support team development during these stages. Buckle up!
Here for a great time, not a long time? Then this definition will be enough to send you on your way: Simply said, team development describes the process of building and strengthening a team by improving how team members work together. In its center lie core aspects such as building trust, improving team work, effective communication on eye-level, clear roles and responsibilities as well as a healthy amount of collaboration. In team development, the journey never ends. A great team never stops learning, growing and improving.
Team development is vital for any team, not only in a business sense. Let’s look at a sports example to grasp the idea of team development better:
From 2008-2012, FC Barcelona had one of the most dominant teams in football history. And that not only because it was led by star player Lionel Messi and manager Pep Guardiola. The team developed a unique style of play that emphasized possession and quick, precise passing. Developing this technique was a long and difficult process, built by the strong group mentality and the deep trust players had in each other. With a unified goal in mind, the team managed to work together seamlessly and build one of the most successful football teams of all time.
Team development is not the same as team building. Team building events usually are fun-focused, and the main goal is for your team to have a good time. Team development digs deeper and really focuses on improving pressing issues.
Why is modern team development important?
Baby steps, you don’t need to write world football history with your team just yet. However, the example above makes clear how important it is to continually develop your team. Truth is, when team members work well together and are aligned towards a common goal, their output is often greater than the sum of their individual contributions. Specifically targeted team workshops can improve key aspects such as:
If these aspects are lacking, things will go south very quickly in any company, especially when working in cross-functional teams. At the same time, improving them is not a quick fix. Besides, fun team building events like rope courses and bowling nights may be a nice incentive, but not a way to improve the way your team works together.
What’s in this for you? Not only will your company operate on a more productive level, increase innovation, and achieve a higher output quality, but your employees will also be more satisfied. When team members feel valued and supported, they’re more likely to be motivated to do their best work. This can lead to better retention rates and a more positive work culture overall. By investing in team development, companies can create an environment where everyone feels heard, respected, and supported. So, don’t underestimate the power of team development – it could be just the thing your company needs to take things to the next level!
Team development models
Team development can feel like a complicated and overwhelming tasks for many teams. Thankfully, there are many team development models out there, that help you find the right approach. However, don’t forget that such models should always be taken with a pinch of salt, and can never fully reflect your team’s unique journey.
Bruce Tuckman’s 5 stages of group development
Bruce Tuckman’s team development claims that team development means should be catered to the specific phase a team is currently going through. Tuckman’s model describes five stages of team development:
In the forming stage, team members are still getting to know each other and establishing their roles and responsibilities. During the storming stage, conflicts may arise as team members work to establish themselves within the group. In the norming stage, the team begins to settle into a more cohesive unit, and in the performing stage, the team works together seamlessly to achieve their goals. Understanding the different team development stages a team goes through, can pose as a helpful guide to find the right team development solution and, consequently, accelerate team performance.
Lencioni: Five Dysfunctions of a team
Patrick Lencioni is a one-stop-shop for all thing teams development, which is also reflected in his five dysfunctions of a team. Lencioni’s model describes the five dysfunctions that can occur within a team and hinder its improvement:
Each dysfunction can lead to negative outcomes for the team, such as a lack of productivity or a breakdown in communication. By identifying these dysfunctions and working to address them, teams can become more effective and successful. By recognizing where your team is at and what issues need to be addressed, you can take steps to help your team reach its full potential.
Our personal favorite. It’s not a secret that the personality type plays a vital role in everyday work. The DISC test is a personal assessment to determine the personalities within your team. It is based on the work of psychologist William Moulton Marston, who identified four primary behavioral styles: Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C).
The DISC model measures these four dimensions of behavior and provides a framework for understanding how people interact with others, approach tasks, and make decisions. Each of the four dimensions represents a range of behavioral tendencies, from assertive and outgoing to reserved and analytical.
- The Dominance (D) dimension represents assertive, decisive, and results-oriented individuals who are comfortable taking charge and making decisions. They tend to be direct, competitive, and enjoy challenges.
- The Influence (I) dimension represents outgoing, sociable, and persuasive individuals who enjoy socializing and building relationships. They tend to be enthusiastic, expressive, and enjoy being the center of attention.
- The Steadiness (S) dimension represents calm, dependable, and supportive individuals who value stability and harmony. They tend to be patient, loyal, and prefer to work behind the scenes.
- The Conscientiousness (C) dimension represents analytical, detail-oriented, and precise individuals who value accuracy and quality. They tend to be systematic, cautious, and prefer to work alone.
By understanding an individual’s behavioral tendencies across these four dimensions, the DISC model can be used to improve communication, build stronger teams, and enhance leadership effectiveness. Team members have an easier time to accept individual differences and achieve team goals.
These three models are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to team development approaches. If you are interested in a more extensive guide to team development models, read our recent article, where we cover the pros, cons and give practical information to team development.
Interested in your own DISC-type and that of your team? Find your personality type with our free and easy personality test for team roles!
Team development: the most important topics
It doesn’t really matter what issue your team is currently struggling with, if you continuously develop your team, it will succeed in the long run. We have been helping countless companies on their journey to become a better team, and have noticed that many of our clients struggle with similar issues.
It’s a simple calculation: Great leadership equals a great team. However, great team leaders are not necessarily born, they have to be crafted (read here about bad leadership). It’s a critical element of team development, since the leader sets the tone for the culture, values and goals for the team. A good leader has the ability to inspire, motivate, and guide their team to achieve success. They provide direction, clarity, and support to ensure that everyone is working together towards a common purpose. A leader also plays a crucial role in fostering a positive team dynamic by promoting effective communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution. When a team has a strong leader, it can help team members feel more engaged and invested in their work, leading to higher productivity and better outcomes. If leadership lacks direction, so does the rest of the team. From our experience, leaders especially struggle with the following aspects:
A Leadership Circle is a leadership development framework and assessment tool that helps individuals and organizations understand their leadership styles and strengths, as well as areas for improvement.
At the core of the Leadership Circle model is the concept of “Creative Leadership,” which emphasizes the integration of both left-brain and right-brain thinking to create effective leadership. The framework includes a range of competencies, including authenticity, integrity, courage, vision, and collaboration.
- Lack of commitment: Many leaders complain about the fact that their team does not get enough done, isn’t committed enough, and lacks communication. The sad truth: These aspects may not be the fault of the team, but of the leader him- or herself. If a team is not committed, it may not trust the systems in place and has a hard time finding motivation.
- Undressed problems: This problem also arises from a lack of trust. A leader should have the necessary empathy and recognize employees as human beings first. If problems remain undressed, it is always a bad sign. Employees may feel like they are not able to express their thoughts and emotions in the work situation. At the same time, leaders may not be able to see the whole picture and have a harder time figuring out why certain systems may not work out.
- Rapid changes: When things change too quickly, many teams find themselves struggling. It is understandable that management has high standards regarding output quality, innovation and productivity. However, your team needs a change to adapt to new circumstances. Making mistakes and working out misunderstandings is an important part of that. Robbing your team of that progress will not only be met with dissatisfaction, but also weaken your company. Allow for settling-in time and keep the expectancies realistic.
- Virtual leadership: Even though remote work has become a normal part of everyday work for large number of companies, many leaders are unsure how to make it work. Many feel like they struggle to keep tabs on their workforce, which weakens the mutual trust between leader and colleagues. Fostering culture in a remote setting is challenging as well, and requires more intentional measures than offline.
- Leadership quality: Not everyone is born a leader, that’s just a matter of fact. However, especially in big companies the hierarchical structure demands several layers of management that need to be filled. Because of that, people take on leadership positions without being trained or qualified at all. But all hope is not lost. Many leadership styles are also no longer up-to-date. Gen Y and Z is starting to make up a huge chunk of the current job market. Their demands are unique and unknown to the leadership models of old. Choosing the wrong approach can cost you valuable employees and damage your employer branding.
Moreover, a leader can also act as a role model for their team, demonstrating the behaviors and attitudes that they want their team to emulate. This includes traits like accountability, integrity, and empathy. By modeling these qualities, leaders can inspire their team to develop these skills and incorporate them into their own work, as well as implement ways to improve team morale. A good leader also recognizes the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, and creates opportunities for growth and development. Overall, leadership is essential in team development because it helps create a positive and productive work environment that supports individual and team success.
Over the course of the past years, remote work has become an important topic for many employees. However, the switch to becoming a remote-first company is not a piece of cake. For good reason: There isn’t a universal manual for developing a successful team from home, since the concept has only been around for a limited amount of time. Here, supporting your team with team development initiatives is just as important as in a physical setting.
We are a remote-first company ourselves, and are very conscious of keeping a healthy team culture. Right now, we would probably rate our remote collaboration a solid 9 out of 10 (there’s always room for improvement). Besides regular online workshops with clear team building goals, we actually managed to integrate team development principles into our everyday work. Our virtual office allows us to interact much easier with colleagues, creating the space to hold important conversations and work out issues directly in the moment.
This leads to the fact that one of the most important aspects for remote team development is technology. Video conferencing, chat apps, and remote workspaces can all help remote teams stay connected, communicate more effectively, and work together towards a shared goal. In addition, remote teams can benefit from regular check-ins, virtual team-building activities, and online training and development programs to help them build stronger relationships and stay motivated.
More than ever before does the young generation, Gen Y and Z, make up a huge chunk of today’s workforce. Their increasingly high education and focus on innovation make them an invaluable asset for any company. However, young people have different expectations from work than babyboomers, which often leads to misunderstandings that can be hard to work out. Freedom, flexible hours and personal fulfillment are highly important for young people, whereas older generations tend to satisfy these cravings in their free time.
This conflict becomes increasingly hard when babyboomers retire and need to give their knowledge and tasks over to young employees. Depending on the company, many of these systems can come across as archaic. Gen Y and Z try to implement their own, modern systems, but often lack the experience babyboomers have. It’s a vicious cycle that is hard to break, and can take a toll on the company culture and limit collaboration.
Team development measures like communication workshops can break down these differences in an understandable way and provide a space to work out conflicts away from everyday work. Finding common understandings is vital for seamless collaboration amongst your diverse workforce.
Over the course of your journey as a company, you will experience setbacks and challenges. Whether it’s a missed deadline, a failed project, or a conflict with a colleague, it’s important to be able to bounce back and keep moving forward. To endure and overcome them, you will need a great deal of resilience. Many teams have never learned to deal with aspects like this in the right way, which can lead to frustration, low motivation and a lack of output quality.
A resilient team is one that can adapt to changing circumstances and keep pushing forward, even when things get tough. By developing resilience as a team, you’ll be better equipped to handle any challenges that come your way. Resilience can also help you build stronger relationships with your colleagues, as you learn to rely on each other for support and encouragement. So, if you want to build a strong, successful team, make sure you prioritize resilience!
It’s important to understand that before building resilience as a team, the individuals of that team need to find coping mechanisms for themselves. There’s a great chance that your coworkers not only experience stress because of work, but because of many other problems and stressors they encounter in their private life. In our resilience workshops, we focus on providing employees with strategies to successfully cope with stress and improve work-life-balance.
Team development solutions
- Retreats and workshops: Offsite retreats (or workations) and workshops can be a prime opportunity for teams to come together, focus on specific issues or projects, and build stronger relationships. Events like this can usually be catered to your team’s unique needs and struggles. Additionally, they allow for a larger number of participants, when challenges need to be worked out with the whole company.
- Team coaching: While workshops are usually special events that take place a few times a year, a team coach can guide your team much more regularly. Team coaching provides support and guidance to teams as they work to achieve their goals. Coaches can help to identify and address team dynamics, facilitate communication, and provide tools and strategies for success.
- Remote team development: Yes, team development is arguably more tricky when you work remotely. However, with more teams working remotely than ever before, there are a variety of solutions available to help remote teams stay connected and productive. These can include virtual team-building activities, online training and development, and communication tools. We personally experienced that our offline-solutions can also work out in online sessions with our clients, and think that remote teams can work just as effectively as others.
- Personality assessments: As we discussed above, your employees personalities are a vital part for understanding and developing your team. Using personality assessments such as Myers-Briggs, DiSC, or StrengthsFinder can help team members to better understand themselves and their colleagues, leading to more effective communication and collaboration. Having this data about your team may even be enough for you to cater better to your employees and, thus, create a better culture and work environment.
- Performance management: Effective performance management can help to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement, and provide regular feedback to team members. This can include regular check-ins, goal setting, and performance reviews. However: Never give your employees the feeling that this comes from a place of distrust, but rather as a means to fully develop their potential.
- Employee engagement programs: Your colleagues want perspective, and a reason to contribute their precious skills and time into the team. Motivation programs such as employee surveys, recognition programs, and career development opportunities can help to keep team members motivated and engaged, leading to increased productivity and retention. They aid your colleagues in achieving development goals
Did you know: We offer a broad range of team development solutions in a virtual setting. So all of your team members can take part.
In conclusion, team development is essential for any organization that wants to achieve success in today’s ever-changing business landscape. By investing in your team’s development, you can build a strong, resilient, and productive team that is better equipped to handle any challenge that comes their way. However, it’s important to remember that team development activities are not always straight-forward, and there may be some struggles along the way.
It’s important to be patient, communicate openly, and be willing to adapt and change as a team. With hard work and dedication, you can overcome any obstacles and create a strong, successful team that is capable of achieving great things.
VIDEO: Patrick Lencioni on Team Development
FAQs Team Development
What is successful team development?
There is no secret sauce for developing every team. Team development is a highly individualized process that never truly ends. Make sure that you hire the right employees from the get go and make sure to regularly add team development measures in your everyday work. We recommend regular workshops, check-ins and 1on1 time to get to the bottom of possible issues or struggles.
What is the key of developing a team?
In any team it’s important to be clear about roles, responsibilities and expectations. If these three factors are clear, you can work on other pressing factors and further develop your team. Make sure that the basic structure is clear and employees know about their role within the team.
What is the most important stage of team development?
If you look at Tuckman’s stages of team development, you will recognize that every stage serves a clear purpose and is very valuable for a team. However, many argue that the storming phase may be the most important stage in team development. Here, it becomes clear if a team manages to get over differences and works out in the long run.