How long does it take for a group of people to come together as a team?

It’s a Journey, Not a Sprint

“How long does it take for a group of people to come together as a team?”

I have a flippant answer for you — as long as it takes!

Let me explain. Many organisations genuinely believe that it magically becomes one by merely labelling a group as a ‘team’.

But let’s get real. It’s still a group of individuals. 🏢

The journey from a group of people to a true team takes time. It’s important to remember that it’s not a race -it’s a marathon.

Anatomy of a True Team

Let’s take a closer look at what makes up an effective team.

  1. A Shared Goal:

A team is a small group of people with complementary skills working towards a shared goal. Sounds straightforward, right? But it’s not that simple. If that were all it took, then you would simply need to gather the right individuals, give them a purpose, and voilà, you’d have a team.🌟

  • Transparent Conversations:

To form a team, we need something extra: the ability to have open, honest, and sometimes difficult discussions about progress. A real team isn’t only a group with a common purpose but one where members hold each other accountable for achieving their goals.💬

  • Building Trust:

This takes time, and many organisations aren’t willing to wait for the time it takes to build trust within a team effectively.

In fact, from a standing start, with a group that hasn’t worked together before, it’s approximately a six-month journey before they can have those open, difficult conversations without pointing blame.

Instead, they’ll say, “People have dropped the ball,” and figure out how to avoid it in the future.

Patience, they say, is a virtue. And it’s indeed needed when it comes to team building.⏱️

No Shortcuts, Just Trust and Time

Believe me when I say there are no shortcuts when it comes to building a team. Here are a few points to keep in mind.

  1. Recognising Competency Levels:

Building a team requires taking time with these individuals so they can trust each other to do their jobs. The team needs to understand and be aware of each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and competency levels and accept each other as they are.🧩

  • Developing a Unique Way of Working:

A new group of team members will gradually develop a unique way of working, closely linked with the people themselves. As they work things out, they’ll begin to trust each other, at least in the context of achieving their common goal.🔀

  • Building Psychological Safety:

As the team develops, they will also build psychological safety, ensuring anyone, regardless of experience or personality, can speak up and be heard. No repercussions, just opportunities for improvement. As Amy Edmondson calls it, it’s essential to have “the ability to speak truth to power.”🛡️

An Investment Worth Making

Organisations need to invest in individuals to form an accurate, high-performing team. From day one, investing in the group of people who have been brought together is critical to a cohesive team.

The difference between a group of people paid to be together and a real team is like night and day. A group will get things done, but they’ll work on individual goals, doing what they think is right.

Visioning the First Few Days

When I’m teaching the CSP course, it’s one of the challenges I set people – what do those first few days and weeks look like?”

There are tools, exercises, meetings, and training that can help set the team up for success. Still, ultimately, “they are going to have to learn how to work together, what each other can do, can’t do, and how to best blend their personalities and skills to become a high-performing team truly.”

And remember, it takes time! ⌛

Join my Agile and Scrum courses, and together, let’s sow the seeds for a great team.

Let’s get you game-ready! 🚀

If you are interested in becoming an agile coach and value mentored, coach-driven skills development in your journey to mastery, visit our Growing Agile Coaches page.

If you are inspired by the idea of an online apprenticeship for a scrum master, visit https://www.agilesuccess.academy/courses/growing-scrum-masters-advanced

If you like the idea of becoming a scrum master and want to achieve internationally recognised and certified accreditation as a scrum master, visit our Certified Scrum Master (CSM) course page.

If you are already a scrum master and want to upskill to a more advanced level of knowledge and agile coaching capability, visit our Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM) course page.

If you have several years’ experience as a scrum master and want to validate and certify your professional skills, visit our Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master (CSP-SM) course page.

For more information on John McFadyen, visit https://www.johnmcfadyen.com or connect with John on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnmcfadyen/.

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Keywords: David Marque, Stephen Bungay, Agile Leadership, Influential Thought Leaders

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author avatar
John McFadyen Managing Partner
John McFadyen is an Executive and Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience working on some of the UK and Europe’s largest, most complex Agile Transformations. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, John brings a wealth of experience as an Agile coach, Agile practitioner and software developer into each of the four core courses he provides. The war stories, the insights into successful Agile transformations and everything he has learned from coaching high-performance Agile teams combine to provide course delegates with a unique, compelling training experience that transforms as much as it empowers.

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