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Team building or team development?

Submitted by on Sunday, 7 March 20103 Comments

Talent Technologies helps Thai and Asian companies develop their teams. In this article we look at the difference between team building and team development to help you decide which of the two is likely to work best for you.

Companies that wish to improve the effectiveness of their teams, by boosting morale, understanding, trust, commitment or communication, are often faced by a dazzling array of alternatives. So we thought it was high time we helped define the difference between the two main choices: those of team building and team development.

Team Building – what it is and how it can help

Teambuilding is usually made up of activities on away days to another part of the country where teams have the opportunity to re-form in a different context.

Usually the team takes part in a number of activities, for example rope-based activities, cooking, sailing, climbing or adventure course activities, paintballing or a walk rally.

The idea or purpose of the away day (or days) is that team members have the opportunity to enjoy themselves and build relationships through these activities.

Teambuilding is usually great fun (if the team members ‘get on’ with each other in the first place).

Teambuilding ThailandIt creates a different context or environment for the constituents to understand and learn about each other better. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that teambuilding sessions are rarely able to:

  • Solve problems of mistrust
  • Increase commitment
  • Overcome ‘legacy events’
  • Increase levels of accountability
  • Increase a desire or care for achieving great results

This is where team development comes in:

Team Development – what it is and how it can help

Team development, by contrast, addresses the concepts of teamwork directly.

If we join a team development programmes, we deliberately address the core concepts of teamwork and seek to improve our behaviours in those fields.

There are very few team development programmes available. However the one that we like (and which is also in our view the best team development programme in the world) is Patrick Lencioni’s Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of Teams.

You don’t need a dysfunctional team to embark on the programme! Far from it. Most of the teams we deal with are very functional, but might just be lacking the spirit of commitment, communication, or clear concepts of accountability.

Thw programme still has plenty of activities as part of it; the key difference is that the approach is to improve teamwork by consciously tackling the areas that Lencioni has identified through his research as being crucial to team success, and then amending our behaviours to match.

The One Crucial Difference…

In Good to Great, Jim Collins wrote that teambuilding should happen on the job. We agree.

The workplace is by far the most important context for our teamwork so we should learn to use it to our full advantage.

A team development programme like Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of Teams allow us to do exactly that – giving the context to the concepts that matter most to teamwork, in the place that matters most – our place of work.

If you would like to find out more about how this team development programme can help you, fell free to read more about it here or contact us using the form here…

…Happy teambuilding!

Talent Technologies. Talent Management made easy.


  • Jeff says:

    I’m glad you mentioned the Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions book. It’s a great read and particularly useful when you run across the hard times in team building. And, believe me, those tough times WILL come. It’s a hard but inevitable part of the process.

  • admin says:

    Thanks for the comment Jeff – yes the Five Dysfunctions offers a useful model for any team that wants to make the ‘soft’ factors more tangible and visible.

  • Charle says:

    We used to have a business subject in college. For me I think team building is more important without it no development will occur.

    Am I right?

    Can you explain more further?

    Thanks! 🙂

    -Charle Villamil
    Visit us @: http://www.SpanishLearn.org

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