Effective team development is crucial for high-performing teams to reach their full potential, overcome obstacles and achieve success. However, not all team development programs are created equal. There is a significant difference between professional team development that simply satisfies requirements and meaningful team development that drives positive change within an organization.
So, what sets the two apart?
Meaningful team development results in targeted and significant changes within the team by providing leaders and employees with the necessary insights and resources to attain and surpass their goals. This can involve benchmarking individual and team performance, analyzing different communication and conflict styles and understanding the team’s composition. Based on these insights, leaders can make informed decisions to create a specific and strategic plan for change.
Ultimately, professional team development empowers leaders to use precise insights about their teams to help them acquire new skills, gain critical knowledge and achieve their full potential. Here’s everything about utilizing this to elevate your team’s performance.
The Significance of Professional Team Development
In today’s ultra-competitive work landscape, professional development is a valuable tool that enables individual contributors on a team to learn new skills, gain proficiencies and ultimately work better together. Even the best-trained teams can benefit from professional team development, and in most cases, this development is actually essential.
Research shows us that today’s landscape is rapidly changing due to technology, economic factors and geopolitical trends. Because of this, many workers will need to learn new skills for their jobs in the coming years. For example, according to the World Economic Forum, employers estimate that 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next several years and that six in 10 workers must be trained before 2027.
Further research shows that professional team development can have benefits for employees and that it can be useful for career advancement. For example, studies show that skill development can lead to more income for employees and that many employees interested in managerial roles seek training or education to upgrade their skills.
Don’t Forget—It Starts With Individuals
Team development focuses on just that: The team as a unit. But it’s important to remember that team development starts with the individual contributors.
When we break it down, excellent professional team development requires a two-pronged approach, which considers individuals and the entire team. When it comes to the individuals, it’s crucial to understand each team member’s profile to better understand elements such as personality types, conflict styles, personal profiles and even work behaviors.
Those insights, paired with data about the team composition, can help inform the team development approach.
The Elements of Effective Team Development
A team that works well together can accomplish more than a group of individuals working on their own. However, building one is not always an easy task. This is where effective team development comes into play.
Here are some of the hallmark elements:
- Clear goals and objectives: High-quality team development requires clearly defined goals and objectives because they provide teams with a common understanding of what they’re working towards. This clarity helps align efforts and ensures everyone works towards the same outcomes.
- Data-backed strategies: Strong team development is guided by data and research-backed strategies. For example, your team might first take assessments that provide succinct diagnostics of your people and processes so you can best understand your team and drive outcomes. Then, you can create a roadmap to inform your team’s development.
- Open communication: Open communication refers to transparent and uninhibited communication, which helps foster trust, collaboration and the sharing of ideas and feedback. This can happen through effective communication channels such as team meetings, one-on-one discussions and collaborative tools and technologies.
- Connection to business goals: Team development can’t just exist for the sake of it. Instead, it needs to be tied to clear business goals and objectives. Studies find that when employees are part of a goal-oriented organization, they’re more likely to feel proud of it and more likely to recommend it as a great place to work.
- Defined roles and responsibilities: Clearly defined roles and responsibilities help team members understand their specific contributions to overall team goals. This clarity can minimize confusion, reduce conflicts and ensure that team assignments play to strengths and skills.
- Strong leadership: Strong and encouraging leadership plays a pivotal role in team development because these leaders provide support, give precise directions and help resolve conflicts.
The Role of Technology in Team Development
In the past, team development looked analog: It involved some pen-and-paper surveys, group discussions or learning sessions. It was up to leaders to figure out how to best put team insights to work and how to launch targeted development programs tied to business and team goals.
The good news is there are now helpful technologies that can encourage and facilitate the professional team development process. These technologies include platforms that host the entire team development process, start to finish.
These platforms typically begin with team assessments, which provide leaders with science-backed surveys built to drive a team’s performance. These employee surveys reveal key data about your team (and the individuals on it), such as where their strengths lie and areas for improvement.
Then, leaders can use these insights, as well as roadmaps and resources, to launch initiatives that develop their strengths and best support their learning experience.
Some of the features of team building technology can include:
- Data-backed insights: Team development technology is designed to help you optimize your team performance. Because of this, it typically provides you with research-backed insights into things like your team’s individual work styles, as well as simple and actionable analysis of your team’s behaviors and priorities. For example, you might get insights into your team’s DISC and conflict styles, which you can use to play to your team’s strengths.
- Benchmarks and assessments: Instead of taking a guesswork approach to team development or launching initiatives that fall short, team development technology provides assessments to benchmark how your team is performing today. You’ll quickly understand where you can drive the most impact and what skills your team is best in.
- Concrete recommendations for improvement: Team development technology doesn’t just assess—it gives you the next steps. For example, RallyBright’s team performance tool and platform help you understand the behaviors driving your team and give you concrete recommendations for improving your team’s challenge areas.
- Learning and improvement resources: Without team development technology, leaders are left to their own devices when finding the right resources and methods for facilitating improvements. But today’s team development technologies come with resources mapped to your team’s insights, which are aligned with the outcomes you’re looking to achieve.
Building a Culture of Continuous Improvement
Formal professional team development can take many shapes: It might look like a learning session during lunch or having a guest speaker in the office, for example. But professional team development doesn’t only have to happen during separate, designated times and sessions. Instead, organizations can adopt a culture of continuous improvement.
What exactly does that mean? An organization that adopts this is always learning and the employees are constantly improving upon themselves. Instead of carving out time for learning and improvement initiatives, teams with this culture will always be upskilling, bettering themselves and landing on more desirable outcomes.
It might just be the thing that helps take an accomplished organization to the next level. For example, research has found that 62% of companies pursuing a culture of continuous improvement were doing so as a means “of moving from good to great.”
Overcoming Common Challenges in Team Development
Professional team development can be incredibly effective when deployed in a proven, targeted manner. However, there are also some common obstacles leaders can face when working to facilitate team development.
These common challenges can include:
- Communication issues: When there are communication silos or other issues, there can be misunderstandings or a lack of trust. These obstacles can make it difficult for leaders to relay team development efforts and can lead to employees being resistant to these efforts.
- Conflicts and disagreements: Differences in perspectives, work styles and personalities can lead to conflicts within the team. If not addressed properly, these conflicts can escalate, leading to decreased morale and productivity. Team development efforts need to be approached with these differences in mind.
- Lack of actionable steps: Team development often starts with assessments and surveys. But where do you go from there? It can be challenging to decide how to decode the insights of your surveys and assessments and how to use those insights to facilitate change. Team building technology can help by using research-backed insights to lay out your actionable next steps.
- Resistance to change: If employees resist change, they might not easily adopt new processes, technologies or strategies. Overcoming these resistances requires effective change management strategies and clear communication about the benefits of the proposed changes.
What Meaningful Team Development Looks Like
Meaningful professional team development can be the difference between a high-performing team and one that’s just getting the job done. When leaders take a targeted, precise approach to team development, they can launch initiatives that help their team members grow, become more skillful and ultimately reach their full potential.
But professional team development, which is successful and accomplishes its goals, can be a big lift. It takes a lot of effort, research and tools to understand how your team is performing today and to develop a game plan to help them improve.
That’s where RallyBright comes into play. RallyBright is a team development platform that gives your organization the science, software and skills to build exceptional teams that crush their goals.
Find out why leaders and their teams love RallyBright for team development by trying a demo today.