UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_35b7Team development is surely an evolving concept. One certainty is that team development will be every bit as essential to organizational success in 2017 as it always has been. The corporate world is anything but static, and team building strategies tend to evolve as corporate cultures evolve. But that doesn’t mean your organization should partake of every new team development trend that comes along. Not all of them will be right for your organization’s particular makeup of personnel, corporate culture, and team building needs. Here are some key trends in team development to watch for in 2017.

Increased Customization of Team Building

Customization is increasingly important in many areas of life. From custom-fit blue jeans to customized kitchen cabinets, products are increasingly able to be made more personal and satisfying without the necessity for huge sums of money or major capital investment. Team development is no different. It only makes sense that organizations want to work with team development experts who are willing to understand their team, their time frame, and their needs. Cookie-cutter team building may or may not meet an organization’s needs, and more leaders have recognized the need to develop team building programs that are custom tailored.

Combining New Technology with Old School Techniques

Virtual reality and augmented reality are two emerging technologies that are expected to be put to use more frequently in the upcoming year. By allowing participants to move in virtual spaces, virtual reality platforms will allow for experiences that simply weren’t possible before. Augmented reality, which is less immersive than virtual reality, is another technology you can expect businesses and team development experts to put to work in team-building activities.

One slightly less sophisticated application of technology to tradition is the smartphone scavenger hunt, of which there are several variations. Some of these activities are geared more toward new teams getting to know each other, while others involve team problem solving and physical challenges. What they have in common is the use of current technologies applied to timeless team building activities.

Emphasis on Collaboration

Collaboration is a term that is frequently referenced in today’s business world. Now that the internet and mobility connect us with each other essentially 24/7, we’re finding new ways to collaborate with each other, whether or not we’re in the same physical location. But as nice as collaboration sounds, it doesn’t always come naturally to people. There are still plenty of people in the workplace who cut their teeth in the traditional “command-control” organizational structure, and who must learn some of the ways in which team members collaborate. UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3640

Team building and collaboration go together naturally, and more leaders recognize that they cannot expect newly formed teams to collaborate flawlessly without having been taught how. “Kick-off” team building activities, in particular, are increasingly geared toward facilitating effective collaboration.

Longer-Term Team Building Initiatives

Another thing more leaders are coming to realize is that a one-time team development activity isn’t enough to set up a team to be effective once and for all. Hence, more organizations are engaging team development consultants for longer term assignments. Rather than having an annual team building event that may or may not speak to the business challenges the team faces, leaders are working with team building experts to develop a series of team development activities that are designed to address the exact challenges the team members are about to face.
In other words, putting the team through a standard team development activity generally only scratches the surface of what’s possible, and a longer term approach is often needed to maximize team effectiveness.

Team Building for Dealing with Change

Recent years have put us through changes we may never have imagined a decade ago, and 2016 especially was a year that saw massive changes. While change does help us stay on our toes and remain agile, too much of it at once can be overwhelming. Therefore, team development experts are coming up with team building activities specifically designed to help teams cope with change in the workplace and in the world. This type of team development activity can help companies ensure their employees are able to spot emerging trends, prepare for them, and deal with them effectively.

Celebrating the Summit

Team Celebrations of Success

Sometimes team development means recognizing and celebrating successes. More companies are looking for team development activities that incorporate celebration of important milestones, like winning a major client, launching a successful product, or coming back from a defeat of some kind to demonstrate excellence. In fact, celebrating success is coming to be perceived as an important business practice. Combining team building with celebration offers a great opportunity for teams to go into a team development program or activity with high spirits and confidence, maximizing positive results.

Recognition That Team-Building Is Not an Afterthought

Finally, an increasing number of organizations have come to understand that far from being an afterthought or an “extra,” team development is fundamental to ensuring outstanding performance on an individual, team, and organizational level. Unfortunately, this has opened the door to a number of team building “placebos” that may help teams feel better in the moment but do little for long-term effectiveness. One way to avoid silly team building “fads” and recognize genuine team development trends is to work with someone with extensive experience in team development, and who knows from experience what works and what doesn’t.

Team development will continue to be critical for business success in 2017. Collaboration is more important than ever, yet many people are having to learn new collaboration techniques, technologies, and ways of interacting with one another. Team building techniques will continue to evolve as markets and customers change, and you can expect other new team development approaches to emerge as 2017 moves along. Being able to separate what’s truly effective in team development from passing fads is essential. I encourage you to contact me at any time to discuss your specific team development challenges. Let’s face the new year with determination to create passion, purpose, and authenticity in our work teams.