Highly functioning, productive teams, or a lack of, have a direct impact on the overall success of an organization. So, companies need to foster healthy team dynamics.
If done correctly, team development can build trust between co-workers, create a pleasant workplace atmosphere, and motivate employees.
What Is Team Development?
Whether you are a new or experienced manager, team development will be a crucial part of your job description. You need to understand your employees’ different personalities, communication styles, strengths, and weaknesses. Then, you must use this information to bring them together as a team.
It doesn’t matter whether the employees you are in charge of are experienced, or if they are new hires. Either way, both groups require continued support and training to work together effectively.
What Is Team Development Used For?
Team building is used to bring a group of employees together to create a collaborative, thriving team. The process can bring benefits such as those listed below.
- Stronger bonds. Considering the amount of time we spend at work, it is important to have a sense of belonging. Team development is often used as a way to encourage team members to get to know each other better, both professionally and personally.
- Improved team performance. If employees feel that they are a part of a team, and that their achievements matter, then the team’s overall performance will increase.
- Better team dynamics. If the team is aware of its strengths and weaknesses, then it will develop problem-solving skills as a whole, and have an easier time overcoming obstacles.
- Improved retention rate. Employees who are happy with their team, and who feel appreciated, are more likely to stay with their employer.
Types of Team Development
Bruce Tuckman was a pioneering American psychologist who is famous for his research into educational psychology.
In 1965, he published a theory about group dynamics called “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups,” which describes the four stages of team development that a team goes through. In 1977, he added a fifth stage. Below, we’ll look at the various stages.
As the name suggests, this is the stage where a team is formed.
Team members meet for the first time and start working together. The manager needs to make sure that the team understands its goals. They also must make sure that each team member is clear on their roles and responsibilities.
The team has now passed its honeymoon stage. This is when disagreements will come to the surface.
The manager should encourage team members to get their issues out in the open, but also give clear and fair directions so that potential conflicts don’t escalate.
This is the stage where team members begin to follow team rules.
In this stage, the team starts to perform effectively, achieving a regular workflow and routine. The manager will encourage team members to rotate roles, asking some to take on leadership responsibilities.
This is the final stage, when a team will separate after having completed a project. Team members who have grown close will experience a sense of loss. Some members may resist change as new team members are brought on and older ones leave.
Learning Team Development
Tuckman’s model is still widely used today for team development. Although you should study and understand the methodology, it is only by putting it into practice that you can learn team development.
By working with teams that vary in size, diversity, and focus, you will develop your own techniques for motivating and unifying your team. You will also learn how to deal with conflicting personalities and workplace issues.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Team Development?
This depends on you and your team. If you are experienced working with and leading teams, then finessing the process and tackling hiccups probably won’t take long.
But if this is your very first team project, getting through the initial four stages will likely take longer. Another factor to take into account is the timeline of the project.
How to Learn Team Development: Step-by-Step
If you want to learn how to develop a successful team, you should use these five techniques:
- Emphasize teamwork. Be smart when assigning tasks within a team. Encourage team members to appreciate each other’s skills and what each person is bringing to the team in terms of experience and personality.
- Look for diversity. When putting together a team, find people who can contribute a diversity of knowledge and perspectives.
- Monitor progress. Make sure that the project’s status is reviewed regularly, and create a specific time when any concerns can be aired and discussed.
- Delegate. After setting out goals and expectations, you should take a step back. Let them overcome some challenges by themselves, as it can bring them closer together and build confidence. You will be there in the background to support and guide them.
- Celebrate along the way. When your team hits one of their milestones, even if it is a small victory, take the time to celebrate and enjoy your accomplishments together.
The Best Team Development Courses and Training
One good thing about learning about team development is that there are tons of interesting courses and resources available. Some of them specifically cover team development, while others are on related subjects.
In-Person Team Development Classes
So far, 2021 looks like it’ll be a better year for taking in-person classes than 2020 was. Still, it won’t hurt to double-check with the course provider to make sure there are no changes to scheduled classes.
- Course: Develop Your Leadership Potential: Stop Doing, Start Leading
- Start date: January 8, 2021 – Sacramento, California
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: $2,095
This course was specifically developed to address the challenges that new leaders face, and to equip them with the right skills and attitudes to succeed.
The three-day program is intended to build confidence by focusing on the interpersonal communication fundamentals that are necessary to developing strong teams.
American Management Association
- Course: Leadership and Team Development for Managerial Success
- Start date: February 17, 2021 – Atlanta, Georgia
March 11 – Chicago, Illinois
April 12 – New York, New York
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
May 27 – San Francisco, California
June 14 – Chicago, Illinois
June 24 – Arlington, Washington
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: $2,195 to $2,445
This course is aimed at business professionals, new managers, and team leaders who want to become more effective leaders.
Participants will sharpen their team-building skills, and learn how to cultivate collaboration. Moreover, leaders will learn the crucial difference between managing and leading a team.
Online Team Development Courses
Below is just a small sample of the online courses that are available. Many new leadership courses are being developed, so be on the lookout for new offerings.
Learning Tree International
- Start date: January 13, 2021 (3 days)
January 19, 2021
March 8, 2021 (2 days)
- Prerequisites: Varies
- Price: $900 to $2,745
Learning Tree has three new courses focused on leadership.
The hands-on, intermediate Applied Leadership course presents project, agile, and traditional portfolios and explains how leaders can execute them. Emotional intelligence is highlighted, especially when it comes to negotiations and decision-making. The course is intended for project managers who want to develop strong leadership skills.
Leading Through a Crisis is a very timely course. In it, participants will learn how to become effective communicators amid a crisis, and how to interact with stakeholders and followers.
To lead a virtual team spread across different time zones can be challenging. This intermediate-level course will give you a solid understanding of the collaboration and communication tools that can help leaders overcome obstacles in working with a remote, global team.
- Course: Team Leadership Virtual Course
- Start date: February 22, 2021
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: $695
This three-day class could act as an introductory course for new team leaders or managers, or as a refresher course for experienced managers. The focus is to develop high-performance teams using structured coaching processes and feedback.
This course is divided into three 90-minute sessions, spread over three days. Upon completion, students have the option to take a 30-minute coaching session with the instructor to discuss how they can apply what they have learned to the workplace.
Free Team Development Courses
Both EdX and LinkedIn Learning have a lot of team development material to offer. The courses below are just two suggestions.
- Course: Developing Your Team Members
- Time: 52 minutes
- Prerequisites: None
- Price: One month free trial
Mike Figliuolo is a US Army combat arms officer who worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company and taught at Duke University before founding his own business.
In this course, he points out that developing a team using a one-size-fits-all approach is a common mistake among leaders. Instead, Figliuolo shares a practical approach for how to train, guide and coach each team member based on their unique needs. He also teaches how to avoid leadership pitfalls, inspire high performers, and motivate underperformers.
Arizona State University through EdX
- Course: Global Leadership and Personal Development
- Time: Enrollment starts January 12, 2021
- Prerequisites: Intermediate
- Price: Free
This business and management course begins by teaching the basics of global leadership and team success. Participants will study the characteristics of high-performing teams, and will learn how to build multicultural and virtual teams.
It is a self-paced course, but it should take about eight weeks to complete, with 18-20 hours of studies per week. This course is free, but you can receive a certificate for $300 upon completion.
Team Development Books
Team development and leadership skills are popular topics, so you will have no problem finding great literature to pick up new ideas and useful examples.
In writing his book, Carmine Gallo interviewed Navy SEALS, neuroscientists, NASA astronauts and the founders behind companies like Google, Airbnb, and Nike. Gallo wanted to find out what role storytelling and the art of persuasion plays in a team’s professional development.
Gettin’ (un)Busy, Garland Vance
“Crazy busy” might have been a workplace buzzword ahead of the current pandemic. But as Vance argues, and as many people have discovered during COVID-19, more can be accomplished by taking things slow. The author says managers should encourage their teams to work at a much slower pace, so they will benefit more from the work they are doing.
Data is everywhere. But Flynn’s point is that instead of getting hung up on social media numbers, teams should aim to convert real people into superfans.
This can lead to amazing business growth. Flynn’s theory applies to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, YouTubers, and everyone in between.
Team Development Certifications
You don’t need to be certified to work in team development, but it certainly won’t hurt either.
This certificate program is offered as an evening or online program. It explores the strategies and models that shape organizational culture. In it, students will learn how they can use organizational development best practices to create change and improve performance.
Penn State’s ODCOE graduate certificate program prepares students to become future consultants of non-profit organizations, government agencies, and corporations. It enables them to build their expertise in Lean Sigma processes, facilitation, project management, and change management.
Online Team Development Resources
Online resources cover team development from different angles. Check these two sites below to read up on the latest research and trends in team building.
The resources section of The Muse features blogs, webinars, case studies and e-books about job searches and working life. Its main audience is millennials. Recent blog posts include “6 Tips for Managing Your Newly Remote Team During Coronavirus,” and “3 Reasons Employee Retention Matters More Than You Think (And How to Get It Right).”
Team-building activities are essential to developing a successful team. One activity suited for longer meetings, or for an afternoon break, is to have every team member fill out a personality test, and discuss the results together.
16 Personalities is one of the most popular online personality tests. It covers the Big Five personality traits: mind, identity, energy, tactics, and nature. It also adds workplace strengths, weaknesses, and habits.
If you type “team development” into the search bar on the Harvard Business Review site, you’ll get 21,321 results. This includes digital and magazine articles, case studies, audio and video pieces, and books. They regularly publish research on a variety of HR topics.
Should You Study Team Development?
Team development training sometimes gets overlooked. Yet, it is absolutely vital for company culture and long-term success. It leads to happier, more engaged employees, increases collaboration, and defuses conflict.
If you want to become a manager, team leader, or supervisor, learning about team development and team building, is one of the greatest career investments you can make.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.