Team Development 101 - Forming a Team

Team Development - How to begin an effective team

Course Introduction

Team development is a big topic that we could address for days and still only scratch the surface. This 15 minute course focuses only on the early stages of a team's development and will give you tools to start your team on the right foot.

Each of the 4 lessons includes both a video and a text version of the content. You may watch just the video, read just the text, or do both. Additionally each lesson ends with 1 or 2 comprehension questions. 

Course Outline:

  • Team Development - Overview
  • Q1: What is Our Goal?
  • Q2: What Strategy Will we Use to Achieve the Goal?
  • Q3: What is Each Team Member's Role?
  • Example Scenario
  • Final Quiz (5 questions)

Team Development - An Overview

VIDEO:

TEXT:

Teams develop in 5 stages:

  1. Forming: ​
    In this stage the team is defining their goals, strategies, and roles. This stage can have a significant impact on subsequent stages.
  2. Storming: 
    This stage includes the stumbles and falls that many teams experience as they work together for the first time. For example team members may not be used to team processes yet, or maybe the team hasn't learned to trust each other. 
  3. Norming: 
    This is the stage where issues from the Storming stage are addressed. As team members better understand processes and learn to trust each other, the stumbles and falls of the Storming stage cease and the team moves to the Performing stage.
  4. Performing: 
    This is the stage where teams perform their very best: team trust has developed and processes are well practiced and understood.
  5. Adjourning: 
    This sad stage marks the end of a team's time together, and typically comes after the team has achieved their goal.

The rest of this course will only address the first stage of team development: Forming. Specifically, you will learn about 3 questions a team should ask itself before beginning any project:

  1. What is our goal?
  2. What strategy will we use to achieve the goal?
  3. What roles do our team members need to fill?

 

What are the 5 stages of Team Development? (select all that apply)

  • Conforming
  • Performing
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Forming
  • Terminating
  • Adjourning

What stage of the development process does this course focus on?

  • Storming
  • Forming
  • Norming
  • Performing
  • Adjourning

Q1: What is Our Goal?

VIDEO:

 

TEXT:

For this lesson, a goal will be defined as "the desired end result of the team's work." A truly effective goal will unify a team and will help the team to make better decisions.

For a goal to be effective, it should meet at least these two requirements.

  1. Be clear to all members of the team
  2. Be accepted by all members of the team

 

Clear to All Members of the Team

To create a clear goal, it is helpful to follow the SMART goals technique. SMART is an acronym for 5 attributes:

  • Specific: answers the Who? What? and When? questions.
  • Measurable: success can be shown/proved.
  • Attainable: stays within the realm of possibilities.
  • Reasonable: stays within the team's willingness to work/play.
  • Time Sensitive: includes a specific timeframe for completion.

The closer a goal comes to including all 5 attributes, the more clear and effective the goal becomes.

Example: In League of Legends the main goal could be established as "Our team of 5 champions will destroy the enemy nexus before the enemy destroys our nexus." This goal is specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and time sensitive.

Accepted by All Members of the Team

Just because a goal is clear, it does not mean that all team members will agree to it. To create a goal that all team members accept, create it collaboratively with all team members contributing to and discussing the goal until a consensus is reached.

This is crucial to the team's success. If even one team member disagrees with the team's goal and doesn't commit to it, it can ruin the team's performance. 

Example: In League of Legends you will sometimes stumble on a game where just one team member has decided that "destroy the enemy nexus" is not their goal. Instead, that single team member's goal is to "personally discover if an attack damage Soraka can perform well in a ranked game." A team that is divided like this will likely end up with very poor performance. 

Summary: 

For a team goal to be effective it must be clear to all team members as well as accepted by all team members.

What are the two aspects of an effective goal as taught in this lesson? (select all that apply)

  • Cost effective
  • Clearly defined
  • Accepted by the whole team
  • Short and concise

What does the S in SMART goals stand for?

  • Sharp
  • Stretch
  • Simple
  • Specific

Q2: What Strategy Will We Use to Achieve the Goal?

VIDEO:

TEXT:

After an effective goal is in place, the next step is to decide the team's strategy. A strategy can be defined as "the route a team takes to reach its goal."

Strategy is a topic that could be addressed for days and still not be fully understood. For this course you should take away two main points:

  1. Strategy depends on team context.
  2. Strategy may change as team context changes.

 

Strategy Depends on Team Context

Team context can be defined as "all elements of the team itself, and all elements of the environment in which the team operates." Elements of the team itself can include the team's finances, headcount, skills, etc. Elements of the team's environment can include the team's location, means of communication, competitors, etc. 

An effective strategy will consider as many elements of the team context as possible.

Example: Assume a work team has the goal to "design a new AD carry champion for bot lane by the end of the month." Unfortunately, the team only has 30 hours a week it can devote to the project. This team needs a strategy to complete the project with limited hours, or it needs a strategy to increase the available hours.

Strategy May Change as Team Context Changes

As a team works on a project, the team context will almost always change. For example, the deadline for the project may be pushed up by a manager, or the enemy Allistar may surprise you with a full AP build. As the context changes, the team's strategy needs to be re-visited to ensure that it will still reach the goal.

Example: A League of Legends team has adopted an all-star strategy. This strategy requires that 4 of the team members work together to feed the 5th team member. Unfortunately, at 10 minutes the enemy Nasus already has 180 stacks and 3 kills. In order to achieve their goal of destroying the enemy nexus, the team may switch from an all-star strategy to a suppression strategy. This new strategy requires that 2 or 3 team members consistently gank Nasus' lane in order to keep his farm down.

Summary: 

A teams strategy depends heavily on the team's context. An effective strategy will constantly consider all the elements of the team context and make adjustments accordingly.

What are the two main points made about strategy in the previous section? (select all that apply)

  • Strategy depends on the team's context
  • Strategy may change as the team's context changes
  • Strategy needs to include a written plan of attack
  • Strategy should specifically outline every action of every team member

Q3: What is Each Team Member's Role?

An important aspect of a team's strategy is creating roles for each team member. A role can be defined as "a goal created for an individual team member that is a smaller portion of the larger team goal." 

For roles to be effective a team should do two things (this is very similar to the team goal):

  1. clearly define the needed roles.
  2. assign an appropriate role to every team member.

 

Clearly Define the Roles

Creating clear roles is similar to creating clear goals. You can know that a role is effective if it meets the SMART goals criteria. 

Example:  A team of 4 Rioters has a goal to "create a new attack damage champion concept for the bottom lane." In order to accomplish this goal, the team identifies 4 roles and gives each role a title and description. Each of these roles is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Sensitive.

  • Champion History/Lore Design: 
    This individual is responsible for writing the new champion into League of Legends' lore. At the project's end they will deliver a written background story that includes relationships and stories with other champions. 
  • Champion Visual Design:
    This individual is responsible for designing the look and feel of the new champion concept. At the project's end they will deliver a 8-10 mock ups for the champion's appearance.
  • Champion Ability Design:
    This individual is responsible for creating the new champion's ability set. At the project's end they will deliver a description and an animation for 1 passive ability and 4 other abilities.
  • Team Lead:
    This individual is responsible for coordination between the other 3 team members. During the project the Team Lead will schedule and run team meetings, track team progress, and report on team progress to management. At the project's end they will be responsible for combining each team member's work into the final champion concept.

Assign an Appropriate Role to Every Team Member:

You know a team member has been given an appropriate role when the team member is both willing and able to complete their role. If a team member receives a role unwillingly, they will not work as hard to fill their responsibilities. If a team member receives a role they are not able to complete, then the team's overall goal may not be achieved.

Example: A League of Legends team is just about to start a ranked game, and has adopted an all-star strategy. As a part of this strategy they come up with these 5 roles:

  • Role 1 - Tank Top
    This player will own the top lane until the laning phase ends, and then will be responsible for taking damage in team fights and protecting the all-star. While in the laning phase this player will not take a hard engage unless it is a guaranteed kill.
  • Role 2 - Fast-moving AP Mid
    This player will own the middle lane until the laning phase ends, and then will peel for the all-star in team fights as well as deal damage. While in the laning phase this player will consistently gank the bot lane, and will not take a hard engage in mid unless it is a guaranteed kill.
  • Role 3 - Aggressive Support
    This player will support the all-star champion through the entire game. To support the all-star this player will harass and peel the enemy team, and will prep the all-star for ganks from mid and/or jungle. 
  • Role 4 - All-Star AD Bot
    This player will be the team's all-star and is responsible for farming as much as possible during the entire game. This player will take as many kills as possible when participating in ganks and will build highly aggressive attack damage items.
  • Role 5 - Tank Jungle
    This player will clear the jungle and consistently perform ganks on bot and mid during the laning phase, only ganking top when it is a guaranteed kill. After the laning phase this player will absorb damage and peel for the all-star.

After these roles have been decided, the team discovers that no one has yet purchased a tanky jungle champion, and so no one is able to fill the defined role. This team will have to revise that particular role description until a team member is both willing and able to fill it.

Summary:

An effective team will clearly define the needed roles and will assign an appropriate role to every team member.

 

Note:

Remember that roles are a subset of the team's strategy. If the team's context changes, then the team's strategy may change, and so the team's roles may also change. For example, an enemy team may decide to build an aggressive damage build against a team with a bruiser Gnar. Gnar may decide to change his item build to become a tanky gnar as a counter.

In what two ways will an effective team approach roles? (select all that apply)

  • An effective team will clearly define each role
  • An effective team will assign each member an appropriate role
  • An effective team will wait to assign roles until after the project begins
  • An effective team will give every role a written title and description

League of Legends Example

Now we understand that effective teams need at least 3 things:

  • A Goal that is clearly defined and unanimous accepted,
  • A Strategy that considers the team context, and
  • Roles that are clearly defined and appropriately assigned to each team member.

Let's look at an example from League of Legends to practice what we have learned. Assume the following for a hypothetical team playing League of Legends. 

  • Goal: Discover if a team of entirely pulling champions (Thresh, Blitzcrank, etc.) can perform an effective early game jungle invade.
  • Strategy:  Select only pulling champions, then rush the enemy's jungle before the first jungle creeps spawn.
  • Roles: 
    • Role 1: Pull Tank Top | Blitzcrank, Thresh, Nautilus, Darius, Singed, Volibear...
    • Role 2: Pull AP Mid | Blitzcrank, Nautilus, Singed, Volibear...
    • Role 3: Pull AD Bot | Blitzcrank, Thresh, Darius, Volibear...
    • Role 4: Pull Support Bot | Blitzcrank, Thresh, Nautilus, Singed, Volibear...
    • Role 5: Pull Jungler | Nautilus, Darius, Volibear...

Now lets watch a video of a real team who may have been trying to accomplish this goal, then we can evaluate the team:

Did the team achieve their goal? They did get kills in the early game but was their team built of entirely pulling champions? No! Unfortunately this team did not achieve their goal (though they did have a lot of fun!).

So where did this team go wrong with their goal? It may have been that the team did not clearly define their goal in the first place. It may also have been that roles were not clearly defined and assigned, so one team member thought that Karthus would fit his role...

It is difficult to identify where the team could improve without knowing their full story. However, if the team had gone through the 3 questions that we addressed in this course, it is unlikely that such a mistake would have been made.

Summary:

As you build your teams in the future, take the time to address these three questions as they relate to the forming stage of your team's development:

  • What is our goal?
  • What strategy will we use to get there?
  • What is each team members role?

You will be well on you way to a high performing, Diamond Elo team in no time!

What are the 5 stages of team development? (select all that apply)

  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Forming
  • Conforming
  • Adjourning
  • Performing
  • Convening

According to this course, what are the three questions that every team should ask? (select all that apply)

  • What is our goal?
  • What is our team composition?
  • What strategy will we use to get there?
  • What is each team member's role?
  • How will we communicate?

What are the two aspects of an effective goal as taught in this course? (select all that apply)

  • Clearly Defined
  • Accepted by the whole team
  • Passes the WIT test
  • Succinct and concise

What are two aspects of a good strategy as taught in this course? (select all that apply)

  • Strategy depends on the team's context
  • Strategy should be created with a written plan
  • Strategy should be clearly defined so that the context never changes
  • Strategy should be flexible, so it can change as the context changes

What were the two main points made about team roles in this course? (select all that apply)

  • Roles should be clearly defined.
  • Roles should be vague enough to allow team members some creativity
  • Each team member should be given an appropriate team role.
  • Roles should be decided by the team's manager