Team development is a continuous and dynamic process that a group of people goes through, from formation, through collaboration, to dissolution. When changes occur in the team, this process adjusts to reflect the new dynamic. The manager plays a particularly important role in the development of a team.
Why is team development important?
In every company, cooperation between people with different competencies, strengths and ways of thinking is necessary, but individual experts do not by themselves make a good team. In order to ensure that cooperation and work processes within the team are productive, conflicts are handled well, individual team members are motivated, and mutual trust and cohesion develop, successful team building is required. A good team achieves set goals together and the team members support each other on the way to this end. Each person in the team brings character traits and skills that contribute to the dynamic. Therefore, team development is not a one-off short-term activity but a long-term continuous process.
The five phases of team development
The composition of teams can change due to various factors – for example, when someone new joins the team or leaves the company, or when a new team is formed to work on a particular project. Various phases are passed through during this discovery phase. Individual phases can repeat themselves and vary in duration and intensity. Every major change in the team causes the first phase to be started again. Knowledge of these phases makes it easier to deal with team members in a way that is appropriate to the situation.
Based on different competencies or qualifications, a team is put together and the team members get to know each other. The first roles and tasks are assigned when the team is put together. First impressions are made, and sympathies or antipathies are formed.
The first conflicts arise during this phase. There might be disagreements about the distribution of roles and tasks, individual team members might feel uncomfortable in their positions, or different priorities might lead to increased conflict.
In this phase, a fixed distribution of areas of responsibility, rules and working methods is established. Communication and cooperation run more smoothly and solutions to existing conflicts continue to be found together. The sense of belonging and commitment in the group are strengthened.
The goal of team development has been achieved. The team works in a highly self-organized manner and does not need instructions from outside to carry out tasks and work processes cooperatively. Decisions are made independently, and the achievement of goals is monitored. The teamwork is subject to assessment and reflection in order to refine cooperation.
If teams have only been together for a limited period of time – for example, in the case of a project group – there is a dissolution phase after the goals have been achieved. In order to mark this closure for the team members, also at an emotional level, it is a good idea to engage in reflection and evaluation at this point. In this way, future teams will also benefit from the experience and the team members can start on possible further collaboration having acquired valuable insights.