Team Building, Team Development or Team Enhancement?



Is it Team Building, Team Development or Team Enhancement we seek?

Team Building has become a catch-all description that’s often used for a raft of different products and approaches. These seem to range from barefoot bowls, paintball and cooking classes to more substantive tailor-made learning packages.

Briefs for any team related experience can thus range from ‘we need to do a teamy thing at the next off-site’ to more elaborate briefs including g the terms ‘team development’ and ‘team enhancement’ more often applied to enhancing business performance as opposed to purely leisure based experiences.

Ask any decent provider and they should be able to match the right approaches to the right level of brief, and hopefully also be honest enough to confess when one is outside their threshold of credibility.

So apart from some semantics of language, what’s the difference?

Team Building:

Technically the process of composing a new or recently re-structured team.

Ideally this process takes into account not just the functional roles that are required, and presumably are built around a person’s ‘eligibility’ (e.g. you are a qualified Engineer, a Sales Person etc), but also upon behavioural ‘suitability’ for the chemistry of that team.

The latter can mean the difference between success or failure irrespective of the talent of the individuals.

Numerous approaches may assist with this process as people come together to form a new team, and one approach stand-alone is unlikely to achieve it all. Rather a blend of internal and external factors are at play here.

Individual and team behavioural profiles (we use Belbin) can profoundly help to understand what behavioural strengths and weaknesses will come into play.

Team Development:

This is the process of advancing a team through the natural team development stages (put best perhaps by Tuckman’s model and stages of ‘Form – Storm – Norm – Perform’).

Just throwing a bunch of people together based on their functional roles alone and calling them a team doesn’t really cut it.

Team development can be best accelerated and improved by understanding the stages that teams go though and the different thinking, social and behavioural factors of each person that will individually and collectively impact the process.

This doesn’t have to be done too scientifically, or with fluffy group hugs, but a little common sense and some evidence-based profiling can go a long way towards moving onwards and upwards.

Once again we make use of the data from Belbin profiles and reports to have the best chance or adding lasting value and understanding to the process.

Team Enhancement:

We have built the team, have developed into the mature stages and are humming along, but like any high-performance machine, some maintenance doesn’t hurt. In fact, a failure to engage in some timely maintenance and enhancement can see teams suddenly lose their edge under pressure.

Team enhancement therefore takes into account where the team is at, and uses the data from behavioural team reporting to indicate what approaches may suit that team best to keep them at the cutting edge.

The styles of approach and activities used for team building, team development and team maintenance vary subtly to suit the stages that any given team may be in.

Indeed it’s far from a simplistic cookie cutter approach to identify such stages, as relationships and chemistry vary across sub-teams and pairs of working relationships within any team.

Thus any programme should take a number of factors into account, and be tailored to suit the needs of each team. The unique requirements of the overall team and any smaller sub teams and the day to relationships at play should be considered.

To try and use a ‘one size fits all’ approach for all teams and across all stages of their development can be fraught with peril.