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The Four Most Common Team Development Mistakes, And What To Do About Them

Source | | Nicole Bendaly

In the article “Stop Team-Building—Start Better Teamwork,” I describe that team building is like dieting as it often results in a yo-yo effect of highs and lows when the team doesn’t stick to the prescribed “diet.” Like failed diets, teams can experience even lower morale following a team-building session when they discover that the session didn’t produce the changes they expected, not to mention the waste of time, resources and budget that went into designing, facilitating and attending the team-building event. It can be an exhausting and disappointing experience for all involved.

I have found that this yo-yo effect is most often experienced in organizations that make the following four team development mistakes.

1.     Team development is treated as an event instead of a process.

Team development is too often reactionary, usually requested by well-intentioned leaders who want to address the issues dogging their team. Unfortunately, the one-and-done approach to improving team performance does not work. A session once a year, with no process to support the behavioral change necessary for real performance improvement, will not work.  For lasting change in team effectiveness to be achieved, the following is essential:

  • A process that enables continuous improvement and team development to occur during the team’s daily work so that it becomes part of the culture.
  • Clear and accurate understanding of the team’s needs and current barriers to improved performance.
  • Input from team members regarding the team’s strengths and most critical opportunities for improvement.
  • The right learning, tools, and approach that will support team members in addressing their specific challenges.
  • A means to measure improvement in team effectiveness over time.
  • Opportunities for the team to celebrate and recognize team achievements and strengths while continuing to identify, and act on, opportunities for improvement through constructive feedback.

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