Team Development

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Developed by Sarantis Pavlidis



There are various definitions of what a team is about. However, one of the most well-known is the one given by Katzenbach and Smith (1993) [1] according to which the team is a small number of people with complementary skills - talents dedicated to a common purpose, a set of performance objectives and an approach for which are mutually responsible. This definition is an extension of the definition given by Adair (1986) [2] as the responsibility of the members added at the latest's data. An important feature of the teams added by Mankin, Cohen and Bikson (1996) [3] is the interdependence of individual's activities, as the work of each member is dependent on the work of at least some other's members. Larson and LaFasto (1989) [4] also emphasized that the core element of the team is also the coordination of the activities of its members, which is necessary to achieve the objectives. Even earlier, Francis and Young (1979) [5] had spoken of an active set of people who are dedicated to achieving common goals, working successfully together and producing high quality results whilst taking pleasure through it. An advanced definition is also given by Kur (1996) [6] who examined the team as an open, goal-oriented , socio-technical system in a tension state between change and stability.

In addition, Team Development is a method for developing a project team.[7] It refers to a process and activities for improving team performance. This article focuses on people perspective as an aspect of project management and provides an overview of the stages of team development. Design of Team Development and how to manage team conflicts are also mentioned. Members of a project team can use the current article to identify the team structure, to understand the stages of developing a team or to deepen their knowledge of the subject. The model can be used in any industry where people are involved to perform teamwork in a project. For example in constructions, information technology, mechanical engineering, civil engineering etc. Effective collaboration is crucial to the success of a project.

Successful team

There are some objective criteria that characterize a successful team which works effectively and efficiently. There are eleven points which are consist of such a team [8] :

  • Relationship and work environment
  • Participation of members
  • Understand goals, accept and commit to them
  • Communication and information sharing
  • Addressing conflicts and disputes
  • Decision making
  • Evaluation of member's performance
  • Expression of emotions
  • Job sharing
  • Leadership
  • Knowledge of Operations

Benefits of using Teams

Reconciliation of employee's skills, qualifications and experience is necessary for a wider and more effectively confrontation of each problem, making the right decisions and find the optimal solutions for the business. As examined by Scholtes et al (1998) [9], the teams have advantages over individuals when:

  • the issue is more complex
  • creativity is required
  • the path is not clear
  • a more efficient use use of resources is required
  • quick learning is necessary
  • strong binding is desired
  • the process is cross-functional

The most frequently reported benefits for businesses using teams are [10] :

  • Increase Productivity
  • Improving communication and collaboration while removing corresponding barriers
  • Increase speed
  • Enhance creativity and innovation
  • Increasing employee dedication and satisfaction
  • Strengthening of customer-focused culture
  • Increasing organizational adaptability and flexibility
  • Improvements to quality
  • Decentralize responsibilities and create more flexible and level hierarchical structures.

These benefits, and especially the latter, are the result of the empowerment of the teams, the process through which they are given resources, power, information and the responsibility that a task requires [11].

Design and Development of Teams

Stages of Team Development

One factor that can particularly affect the effectiveness of a team is its maturity. In correspondence with the mature person, which evolves, improves and gains confidence and stability over time, so the teams mature at different rates. As most bibliographic sources [6], [1], [12], [13], [14] agree, teams are being developed in stages. These stages are determined according to the "Form-Storm-Norm-Perform" (FSNP model) introduced by Bennis & Stepard and Tuckman in 1965 [15], [16] and describing the phases that a group passes from the moment of its creation until it matures in a high-performance group. The period following the formation of a team is called a stage of Forming. During this time the team members first come into contact with the rules and procedures of its operation and start exploring the ways in which they will cooperate better with each other. At this stage, most discussions relate to the team's goals and the possible roles that members will take. People are usually proud of their choice, enthusiasm for the new form of work,but also confusion, anxiety and uncertainty about the future of the effort. A heavy weight falls on the person who will be appointed as team leader, who is invited to promote familiarity among members, to clarify their questions, to encourage their participation in the first tasks and to provide the necessary information for the beginning. As a logic, the team's performance is low and all jobs are running at a slow pace. While the first stage rarely gives rise to disagreements, when objectives, targets, rules and roles begin to determine each subsequent move, the first problems are raised. The term storm used for this second stage with the meaning of crisis, intense disorder implying its difficulty. As individuals realize that the whole process is not that simple, they are overwhelmed by feelings of doubt or even jealousy that lead to reactions to leadership, tasks and priorities. Objectives and rules are being reviewed. The possible refusal to compromise with faces and situations may lead to the formation of subgroups - clusters and the effort of the most powerful to impose their ideas. The role of leader at this stage should be balanced with an emphasis on the principle of equivalence of members because the continuation of conflicts in terms of power and duties may result from negative psychology to disengagement and disastrous for the team's future. The overall performance of the team remains low. Once the first conflicts are successfully handled, the team moves to the next stage where the group's norms are developed, ie the fundamentals, the bases, the limits of its operation. This is the stage of norming. Eliminating reactions and achieving consensus on issues and rules creates feelings of trust, consistency and optimism among members. Replacing competitive relationships with cooperative relationships has an immediate positive impact on team performance as it allows individuals to use their time and energy constructively. At this stage, the leader should pay attention to the benefit of member's knowledge, abilities and skills by encouraging their active participation in all activities of the team. The final stage of the maturing of the teams is characterized by their high performance, which also owes its name (Performing). Members have assimilated the way the team operates and have accepted the strengths and weaknesses of their colleagues. Communication and cooperation between them has been optimized, and the division of responsibilities is more flexible than ever. Disagreements only exist on important issues and contribute to a more comprehensive response. The team is now able to diagnose and resolve problems, choose and implement changes. The duration and intensity of each phase varies from team to team. The latter stage is rarely achieved, as it requires smart individuals and a charismatic leader with experience in teamwork. However, the understanding of these phases makes it easier for the members to comprehend the individual difficulties and to be more attentive to their reactions.

Elements of enhancing the performance of teams

Apart for the right planning, there are various practices that teams should adopt in their operation for their development and ensuring high performance. According to Katzenbech and Smith (1993) [1], the main ones are:

  • Creating direction and sense of urgency: Team members should think that the purpose of the teams is urgent and worthy of importance, and they also need to know what are the expectations of the business.
  • Addressing the first meetings and actions of the groups with special attention: initial impressions always play a decisive role of people with increased power (leaders, managers) because of the greater influence, especially at this stage.
  • Defining clear rules of behavior: For the smooth operation of teams, it is necessary to formulate rules in which members will advance towards achieving their goals. The first issues that need to be regulated are to monitor meetings (eg, bans on phone calls), organize discussions, confidentiality, analytical approach (on the basis of events), work and confrontation.
  • Identify some direct tasks and goals: This process in the first steps of the teams encourages the activation and the binding of the members.
  • Regular data-based control: New information and circumstances should be taken into account in reviewing rules, objectives and procedures to continuously improve team performance.
  • Consuming enough time together: Common sense dictates that team members should pass through enough time together, especially at the beginning, both officially and unofficially.This contact helps develop communication and collaboration and promotes creativity.
  • Use of positive feedback, recognition and reward: Encouraging and supporting members, recognizing their efforts and rewarding extraordinary attempts, works promisingly and promotes individual performance within the group.

From the individual to the team


There are training consultants who can help a company's employees learn to behave as a group member. With group workshops and games, employees learn to enjoy the satisfaction of collective work. They help them develop their communicative and negotiating skills. They also teach them techniques for problem solving and conflict management. At the same time, they remind them that they need patience because a group needs more time to decide on a person.

The evaluation and reward system

The remuneration system should be redesigned to promote collective action against individual success. For example, beyond the individual, an annual bonus can also be introduced to achieve the group goals. Promotions, salary increases as well as other forms of employee recognition should be based on how effective individuals are as members of their team. That is, for example, educating new colleagues, sharing information with other members of their team, and trying to develop those skills that their team needs. Naturally, individual achievements will not be ignored but will be combined with the collective achievements. Finally, managers should remember that for employees the sense of belonging to a team and the satisfaction provided by them may be the best incentive to improve the effectiveness of the teams.

The stages of training a group in order to acquire a collective awareness

It is extremely important to properly train the members of the group in order to acquire the qualifications they need. This training should be done at the right time and in a way that does not depress people. We distinguish the following five stages of training [17]:

Stage 1: Startup

The challenge of this stage is to prepare the selected officials to join the team and feel pledged to the whole project. Training focuses on:

  • Knowledge on what the working groups are, why they are important and how team members can benefit from it
  • Basic interpersonal skills (giving and receiving feedback)
  • Basic administrative procedures (file updating, materials ordering etc.)
  • Technical training for all team's tasks.

Stage 2: State of Confusion

The challenge at this stage is to help individuals overcome their personal confusion and impatience without being discouraged to leave the group. Training for team members focuses on:

  • Learn how to do things in groups - communicate their expectations, undertake a new assignment, define the requirements of a project, and learn to ask for help.
  • Develop administrative capabilities
  • Extend the training technique so that they learn the members of the team and the duties of other members to be able to replace them whenever necessary.

Stage 3: Leader-Centered Teams

The challenge at this stage is to encourage the development of the team, but not at the expense of productivity gains. The training of team members focuses on:

  • How to guide and participate in problem-solving meetings.
  • How to evaluate the performance of the team.
  • How to qualify for advanced technical skills.

Stage 4: Tightly Formed Teams

The challenge at this stage is to broaden the team's goals to include organizational goals without loosing team spirit. The training of the team members focuses on :

  • Learning to work beyond the boundaries of the group by creating cooperative relationships, gaining support and and resolving conflicts.
  • Apply the administrative training they have received to calculate the cost of quality and define specifications with vendors.
  • Apply technical training that they received to perform tasks to support the team's tasks.

Stage 5: Self-Directed Teams

The challenge of this stage is to avoid a repeat of what we have achieved by setting new goals. Membership training focuses on:

  • Addressing customer-supplier relationships both internally and externally. Understanding customer expectations. Dealing with unhappy customers.
  • Understanding the market
  • Learning accounting processes such as reading financial reports or calculating ROI.
  • Applying administrative training to respond to the feedback they receive from their clients.

Protocols to Improve Behavior and Performance of the Team

According to Rick Ross, it is extremely useful for a team to print cards for its members that will state the following five principles:

  • Be mindful of my goals. What do I want from this discussion? Am I prepared to influence?
  • Balancing advocacy by exploring. What led you to this view? What do you mean by this view?
  • Build common meanings. When we use the term.....What do we mean ....
  • Use self-knowledge as a resource. What do I think? What do I feel? What do I want?
  • Investigate the deadlocks. What do we agree with and what do we disagree with?

It is not difficult for team members to follow these five protocols, but training is required. Any group following these protocols will notice an improvement in its behavior and increase its effectiveness.

Team Facilitator

A team facilitator according to Schwarz Roger (1994) [18] is the process in which an individual is accepted by all members of the team, virtually neutral and without power, makes decisions to help the team improve the way is recognizes and resolves the problems as well as the way it makes decisions. The purpose of this process is to increase the efficiency of the team. The person doing the above process is called a team facilitator. This person should be neutral, i.e. not in favor of a proposed solution, acceptable from all members of the team and not have the power to decide. Therefore, practically and by definition a member of the team, no matter how well has been trained, cannot be a team facilitator. But if there is a budget limitation or the process is expected to finish late, then a member of the team can take on this role. This person should be trained appropriately, preferably in the performance of his/her duties, by an external facilitator. In order for the team to maintain its autonomy and, to increase its effectiveness, facilitator interventions should gradually reduce the team's dependence on it. This is particularly achieved through facilitator interventions that teach team members the ability to facilitate dialogue. The facilitator should constantly encourage those members of the group who have not submitted their views. It should regulate the flow of the debate, following a dialogue model inviting people to behave as partners. The main task of Facilitator is to help the team to increase its effectiveness by improving the process that follows. The process includes:

  • How should members talk to each other
  • How do they identify and solve problems
  • How do they decide
  • How do they handle conflicts.

Group Problems

Problematic Operational conditions

Despite the fact that the development and use of working teams has led to impressive results for many companies in various industries, the transition from traditional operating structures to group-based structures is often characterized by problems due to operational conditions. The most common problems of the groups are related to the company's existing structure and hierarchy. The steady form of jobs and responsibilities, strict job descriptions, and the graduation of employees at hierarchy levels based on non-performance and productivity criteria are in contrast to flexibility, increasing obligations but also the rights of the groups. The inhibitory element is also to maintain the old forms of management systems (eg evaluation and remuneration) after team building because it minimizes the motivation of the group members and creates the impression that the teams are not important for the business. Also, another problem, which is often associated with the above-mentioned circumstances, is the indifference and the lack of support for the work of the teams by the senior administration. There are executives who feel that their position is threatened by the changes brought by teams, while others, due to lack of knowledge and experience, can not recognize the ability of the teams to contribute to the progress of the business. The result is particularly negative: the competencies of the teams are limited, the participation of the administration in their activities is minimal and their development efforts are constantly hampered. In terms of administration, it is also also often very impatient and interested only in the short-term results of the groups, which favors the superficial treatment of things and the reduction of long-term improvement efforts by their members. Incomplete training is one of the most common reasons for the failure of the teams Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag

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