The Benefits of Planning Structured Team Development.
As a consultant and coach, I often help companies improve their teams, and even though the process is fairly simple, there are some general obstacles and good reasons why you might fail the first time. Nevertheless, becoming aware of these pitfalls is a great start, which together with a planned and structured approach will help improve most teams. It is my hope that this post will help you do just that.
Strengthening teamwork and team spirit is not simple, and even more so when a team is geographically dispersed in different locations and without daily interaction. The general recipe is for them to do more work as a team, show them its benefits, and teach them a few skills – all as part of a long-term approach, which can be accelerated with purposely designed activities and tasks.
A team building day is just one activity in a long line of various coherent activities
Biggest Team Development Obstacle.
There can be many reasons why teamwork never goes from good to great, including everything from poor team setup and management, to missing goal alignment and trust, but more often than not, I see the right intentions failing as the team development is not planned as a structured long-term approach. We can all go for a run, and probably do quite good, but if we want to be great runners we will need a training or improvement plan, lots of practice and motivation, as well as continuous evaluation and adjustment.
Structured Team Change.
No matter what the desired change is, a structured approach will be the most effective. Make a plan for how to strengthen the team, and do not let it happen by random. Random activities and then hoping for improvement is nothing but exactly that – a hope!
Plan a year ahead and include not only your main team building and development activities but also the enforcing activities in between, as well as your success measures and team self-assessment goals. The below slide illustrates the overview of such a plan, which could be named a Team Building Plan or a Team Development Plan.
Example of long-term Team Building Plan
Comments to nearby planning example.
As with any plan it makes sense to include effectiveness evaluations of the plan itself. Does it work according to the intention, are there any changes and improvements to be made, or perhaps there is something to consider with the team composition?
With the above planning example in mind, it is time to identify the actual content of the plan.
Which Team Development Activities to Choose ^
There are so many great books and articles on team building readily available. In fact, so many that it may even be overwhelming to choose among the countless seemingly good ideas. Keeping the purpose of the team and its team building in mind, I usually rely on questions like the below to define the purpose and to choose content for the team development plan. Here are some random questions for you to consider with your team.
Depending on the team and situation, involving the members in development planning will make for a good team activity and will foster beneficial buy-in.
Team Building Objective Verification ^
In the case that you have defined the team building objective without involving the team, it is now time to verify its correctness before your long-term development plan can be finalized. Also here, I design a set of questions to verify the chosen team building objective, which will be highly different depending on the objective. The questions might, for example, look as the below, which I would use as a base for a couple of short team member pre-interviews. Again, the questions might be very different depending on the actual team building objective.
Call to Action ^Here are some ideas for immediate action.