Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
I keep reading all the announcements from CEOs about returning to the office environment post-pandemic. I’m sure you’re seeing them too. One of the most common reasons they give for coming back together as a group is the team dynamic.
Today’s article isn’t to debate whether they’re right or wrong. Honestly, there are advantages and disadvantages to team interactions. But I do want to discuss giving people the training and tools to work successfully in a team. And that means understanding the difference between team building and team development.
TEAM DEVELOPMENT is about giving employees the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) to work successfully in a team. Topics might include communication skills, decision making, problem solving, etc.
TEAM BUILDING is focused on role clarification, goal setting, and relationship building. It’s focused on a specific team and their responsibilities.
So, team development activities prepare an employee for any team they’re on. They can use those skills as part of their department team as well as a special project team they’re assigned to. Team building activities help a group learn about each other and the task they are responsible for. On the other hand, team dynamics could be different depending on the group, so it makes sense to conduct team building for each new team that’s formed.
Because team development and team building serve two different purposes, this isn’t an either/or situation. Both should be done. A group that has team development but not team building might struggle because they don’t understand their role and goal. And a group who attends team building without team development might know what they’re supposed to do but not have the skills to get it done.
I know it’s very tempting to use these terms interchangeably. I’ve done it myself. However, it’s very important to understand the difference because we want our teams to succeed. Getting back to my comment in the introduction about employees returning to the office. It’s possible they have those team development skills. But over the past few years, the composition of the team has changed. Maybe it’s time for some team building to get the group excited about being in the office. And if there are team members who haven’t been able to take any team development courses because of remote work, now is the time to make that a priority.
In addition, organizations who are going to continue with hybrid and remote work need to think about how employees will participate in team development and team building activities. Just because you don’t go into an office building every day doesn’t mean you won’t be asked to work on a team. And one of the worst things organizations can do is just put a group of people in a room and say, “Viola! You’re a team.” Because it doesn’t work that way.
As I mentioned above, there are advantages and disadvantages to working in teams. In my experience, the number one reason from employees that they either love or hate teamwork is the team dynamic. Set employees up for success by giving them the tools and training.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Gainesville, FL49