Beyond team building: researchers evolve team intervention theory with expansive review

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A team building activity in the workplace is often met with an eye roll, but a team of organizational researchers is taking a hard look at such exercises in order to determine their best use—or if a given intervention is needed at all.
The researchers’ published article in the Academy of Management Annals defines what makes an intervention effective and rounds up dozens of popular approaches. But more than a review, the article’s primary goal is to establish the need for an evolved approach in the use of team development interventions.
According to Marissa Shuffler, assistant professor in Clemson’s psychology department and co-author of the study, there’s no one prescription for every ailment just as there’s no one-size-fits-all intervention for building a better team at work.
“If we want to get the most out of our teams, we need to provide the correct combination of interventions at the correct time and place,” Shuffler said. “Before anyone can do that, there has to be a better understanding of each and every approach to team interventions.”
Marissa Shuffler discusses teamwork state profiles with a group of graduate and undergraduate students.Image Credit: Clemson University
The total review covered over 500 articles, half of which were devoted to team training and team building, by far the most used interventions in organizations. The remaining articles examined topics such as team debriefing, team leadership and team coaching, just to name a few.
According to Shuffler, the key to success in implementing one of these many interventions is to not do so blindly. Defining what needs to be improved, who needs to be involved and when and where the intervention takes place ahead of time can make the difference in choosing the correct route for improvement.
“We don’t want to just jump right into the how, which is the …

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