The ingredients for good team development

What is team development and why is it important? This is a question that has so many people searching the internet for a simple answer. In my experience, building a culture of collaboration takes time and effort. Improving team performance doesn’t happen overnight, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Striving for a 1% increase everyday is a great start! It could be as small as implementing 5 minute water cooler breaks throughout the day, or by simply giving your team acknowledgment when they’ve gone above and beyond to get a project done. 

In this article, I’m going to give you tips on how to dive into team development and why it actually works! To top it off, I’ll provide you with some actionable ideas to get your team in the spirit of success.    

Planning For Successful Team Development

What does it mean to build a successful team? It’s commonly broken down into these 5 stages:

Stage 1: Forming 

Stage 2: Storming 

Stage 3: Norming 

Stage 4: Performing 

Stage 5: Transforming

Before you dive head first into theses stages, think about what kind of leader you want to be. How are you going to motivate your team members to get the job done? This may take some introspection on your part. Your responsibility as the team leader is to assist your team by helping them maintain goals and eradicate any barriers that may get in the way. 

Some characteristics of all great leaders are being inspirational, confident, communicative, and fair. Once you’ve discovered what kind of leader you want to be, you’ll be ready to begin to lead your team to success. 

Stage 1: Forming 

When developing a team, you naturally start with forming. Who is going to be a part of this team? Maybe your team was selected at random and none of you have ever met before. Take this as an opportunity to make connections. Get to know your team by using icebreakers or by hosting a dinner and inviting all of the members. Getting familiar with each other creates bonds and a sound foundation of trust to start building upon.

Stage 2: Storming

It is in this stage of team development you start defining what your goals are. Now that everyone has been acquainted, personalities start to come through and roles start being fulfilled. There may be tension that arises, but that is completely normal when you get multiple personalities in one room together. It is crucial that you don’t let differences get out of hand. 

During the storming stage, it may be useful to plan some team building activities that require collaboration. A fun exercise is to participate in an escape room. Putting everyone in a room for an hour and forcing them to work together to find clues and solve puzzles to find a way out is a great way to foster out-of-the-box thinking. This will allow everyone to have a say in how they escape. A team that works together, shares success. There are no wrong answers in an escape room. Well… unless the escape room master says so!

Stage 3: Norming

Things are starting to become normal in this stage. Everyone is finally working together as a group, becoming familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Goals start to align and begin to propel the team towards achieving their shared values. Team building exercises are still important in this stage to maintain the progress you’ve made. There will still be pain spots that arise. Disagreements are inevitable, but setting aside time for regular activities to develop your team will help the everyone learn how to use differences to their advantage. 

Stage 4: Performing

As your team keeps growing and optimizing their processes together, they begin to trust and respect each other fully. Accomplishing tasks quickly and efficiently shouldn’t be a challenge for the group. This stage is the performing stage and an incredibly important one for team development. If your team has reached this stage, their success has been met by acts of  continuous learning and operating as one unit. You can thank all of those previous team activities that you planned throughout the process! 

Stage 5: Transforming 

Last, but not least. The fifth and final stage of team development is transforming. The group has successfully brought a project to completion. There were hiccups along the way, but as a leader, you never gave up on them. You provided them with inspiration and all of the tools necessary to guide them to success. The team is now proven and ready for the next challenge. Fruitful work relationships and life-long friendships have been created along the way. Now is the time to celebrate a job well done.

Does it actually work?

Multiple studies have shown the benefits of intentionally working on team bonding and performance. Activities geared towards building relationships, exercising group problem solving skills, as well as setting goals will have a positive impact on your team’s outcomes. 

Taking time to develop your team is both an art and a science. What works for some teams might not work for others. There are quite a few factors to take into consideration when planning your activities, such as the size and age demographic of your team members. Knowing how to motivate your group comes with trial and error. There is no doubt that team programs actually work. It’s a matter of finding the right activities that work for your group. 

Read on for some ideas you can try. 

5 Team Development Activities

There are lots of ideas under the sun! But here’s a list of five in-person and remote activities to get you started on your journey. 

1 – Music and Song

Music always has a way of bringing people together. It has its own language providing peace, love, joy, anger, sorrow, among so many other emotions. When we get a group of people together for one of our team building programs, magic envelops the room. People use their shared experiences to draw ideas for song lyrics, creating a sense of togetherness. Every single person leaves the room with a smile on their face and a new found appreciation for each other. Not only is this an option for in person team building, but remote options are available. 

2 – Office Trivia

An option for a quick in person or remote option for team work is office trivia. Ask your team questions like, “what year was the company founded?” “What is our company motto?” “What color is the carpet in the break room?” Your questions can be silly to make it fun. This is a great 25-30 minute game to play to give your team a little break from being hard at work. And give out awards. You’ll find people will begin to do research between sessions.

3 – Community Service 

Does your company have charities that it donates to? Community service can be a great way to help your team find ways to work together. Giving a helping hand to those less fortunate can create a natural sense of accomplishment. Check in with your team to see if there are any community service opportunities that they’d like to participate in. A few that come to mind are trash clean up, working in a soup kitchen and habitat for humanity. Once you’ve chosen your community service activity, plan and schedule a reasonable amount of time to give back to your community. 

4 – Who’s Office Is It?

If you’re specifically looking for remote team building activities, who’s office is it could be exactly the short game you’re looking for. This is a great icebreaker game if your team members are coming together for the first time, or even for new members. How it works is that  you have your team members send in photos of their work spaces and everyone has to guess which space belongs to whom. You can keep the game going by having your team members send in pictures of coffee mugs, or even pets. This is simple and surprisingly fun. 

5 – Charades

Who doesn’t love party games? Charades is a crowd favorite. This can be done remotely or in person. Most everyone knows how the game works, but for those of you who’ve never played before here is how it works. You can break up into two teams, the goal of the game is to guess what the phrase is based on what is being acted out by your team member. Check out these detailed rules

If you invest time and resources into your team’s development, you’ll reap exponential benefits. And remember, working on teamwork should be ongoing. You won’t change your dynamic or culture without some time and effort. 

About Billy Kirsch

Billy is a Grammy & Emmy nominated, CMA & ACM award winning songwriter with numerous Top 10 hits to his credit. His team building programs and keynote speaking presentations help people tap into their creative abilities to become more innovative and engaged in their work. Clients include Fortune 100 companies and organizations throughout the world.