Team Building vs. Team Development

Developing high-performance teams is at the core of Credo Growth, and something I’m incredibly passionate about.

So how does it differ to team building?

Team building activities, like wine tasting or amazing races might bring people together to play and laugh and learn about each other, but they typically don’t resolve deeper issues or address how things play out in the actual workplace.

Whereas with team development, we really tap into the psychological behaviour and interactions between people. We also look at the processes, culture and methodology being used in teams.

They both have their place, but they serve a different purpose. For example, making time for enjoyable activities is crucial for engagement and fun; but be careful not to fall into the trap of saying “We go for drinks all the time, have an employee of the month award and often do team building activities,” and equating this to actually developing the team and building a strong culture.

In an amazing race scenario, the one team might win all the legs, another may get some clues wrong, and a third is just slow. It’s all fun and games but where is the link back to real life? How does that actually show up in the workplace?

There can be so many variables at play in terms of why teams struggle. For example, the phase they are in, communication gone astray, blaming games, disengaged members, feeling overwhelmed or stress.

We focus on where things work, where they don’t work and why, and then what we can do to make them better.

In team development we also do activities and experiential tasks, but with the aim of always taking lessons out and linking it back to the workplace.

Then we take it one step further to have really in-depth, direct and tough conversations about these learnings and unpack the crux of the core issue: why does it exist and what do we need to do to shift things?

Don’t expect your team members to know how to have these types of conversations if they’re not being led by you or at least a designated facilitator, whether they are internal or external. If this was an easy skill everyone would do it, it’s not, so give your team members the skill of having these team development discussions.

Leaders having to create safe spaces is a hot topic at the moment and I agree; however, I feel strongly that employees also need to show up! So to any employees reading this, don’t just expect your leader to work their butt off; team members also have a responsibility to engage in these sometimes difficult scenarios, stepping out of your own drama and actually allowing a team to move through tough times together instead of adding fuel to the fire. 

But employees really do need guidance in how to set up the right frameworks and show up, and that is what team development does – it gives your team members the gift of knowing how to have tough conversations, how to assess where they are and what needs to be done to move forward. 

What we find is that through a team development process, team culture, performance and engagement become everyone’s responsibility, and the team members themselves take ownership of the process – that for us is a win when you as the leader can then rely on your team to drive culture and engagement.

Chat to us if you’d like to find out how Credo can develop your team, and we can tailor a proposal for you.