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When Work Teams Place a Strong Emphasis on Developing, They Do

What is your stated purpose for assembling a team? If you're operating like most organizations, you call people together and form teams when there is a specific task or project. You may not know that when work teams place a  strong emphasis on developing people, that the task or project will be completed  AND people will grow as they do this work.

work teams place a strong emphasis on


What if you assembled a team purely for the sake of developing people?

In leadership development programs, for example, team assignments and project work are used as a way to develop people. This is the express purpose, the primary reason these teams exist.

At the same time, there is "real work" attached to these projects and teams. Often, the secondary objective is intentionally vague so these developing leaders have an opportunity to deal with ambiguity and identify problems and priorities for themselves.

As a facilitator for over 50 long term, corporate leadership development programs, I've seen leaps and bounds growth in emerging leaders who have an opportunity to serve in this capacity where work teams place a strong emphasis on their development. At People First Productivity Solutions, we use this model for Capstone Projects which gives participants a way to assimilate and apply all they've learned about leading, about the organization and about themselves.

This strategy doesn't need to be attached to a complete program. It also works on an individual basis.

As a coach, my clients are often looking for development opportunities. I frequently recommend volunteering for teams and looking within those teams for ways to develop themselves. This development can include:

  • Learning about another part of the business
  • Stretching to lead with influence instead of authority
  • Challenging the status quo and offering alternatives
  • Finding your voice and contributing new ideas assertively
  • Demonstrating learning agility by applying what you already know in new ways

Putting development at the forefront ensures that development happens. The rich opportunity for people development in teamwork should be leveraged more often. You've seen this play out in other ways.

When work teams place a strong emphasis on tasks, tasks get done

Highly focused teams do a better job of completing their work. This is why clarity of purpose is so important for a team.

I think volunteer groups exemplify this best. When I spend a Saturday morning at the food bank, the team's task is very clear and singular. Assemble boxes of food following a specific plan. We all dive in, complete our individual and collective tasks, and finish as efficiently as possible.

When work teams place a strong emphasis on meetings, there will be a lot of meetings

Maybe you've been on this type of team. You have regular meetings and.... that's about it. During those meetings, you admire the problems. But little is done to move toward a solution. Sometimes, I've asked team members what their role is on the team. People actually say things like "I show up at meetings to represent our department." That's it! They don't even see a purpose beyond the meetings.

When work teams place a strong emphasis on problem-solving, problems will get solved

Conversely, when a team understands their purpose to be solving a problem, they generally do. Often, left unchecked, they solve it hastily. That's because they weren't given the criteria for a good solution.

In one company, I consulted with a cross-functional group called "The Action Team" which, of course, became "The A Team." Like the TV characters, they seemed to tackle and solve a new problem every week. But they didn't seem to understand the unintended consequences of their swift action. They prioritized efficiency over effectiveness, and it became quite costly.

When we changed the team's charter to put "individual development" ahead of all other purposes, their approach to problem solving changed. They became more reflective and inclusive. They took greater pride and personal responsibility in the solutions they devised.

When work teams place a strong emphasis on developing people, people will grow in their capacity while the team's work is simultaneously completed

The A Team improved their results in solving problems when they also focused attention on developing people. When people are empowered and ennobled in this way, they will do a better job.

In your work team or organization, you can do the same.

The CONNECT2Win Blog has been discontinued. The CONNECT2Lead Blog continues, and you'll find free and affordable resources for team on People First Leadership Academy