Team development DIY

How self-led workshops are supercharging our teams

The mission of our Learning and Development team is simple: Enable and empower all of our band members to learn faster than the world is changing.

That way we can keep innovating and delighting our end users, make it possible for more music and entertainment creators to live off their work, and let millions of fans enjoy and be inspired. I have written more about our approach to faster learning in this blog post. In this one, I will focus on team learning.

Why focus on teams?

Most of us do our daily work and learning in a team environment. We talk about teams all the time. Either because we are part of one, or we are managing one. Or because our job is to support other teams – like we do in the GreenHouse team (that’s Spotify language for the “Learning & Development team”).  So developing teams and making it easy for them to learn together is a top priority.

Team development at Spotify

In GreenHouse we have a selection of support, training, and workshops available to teams to help them develop and work better together, get more productive, and innovate together more efficiently. Many of these items are founded on improving team collaboration, things like:

  • Building trust (creating awareness and accepting similarities and differences)
  • Driving change (things change a lot, all the time!)
  • Communicating better (includes feedback/radical candor)
  • Connecting individual values with team and company values to create a purpose.

Teams of leaders who need to be a part of one team while also leading another, get a bespoke team development platform called: Building a High Performing Team. This program is based on the research by PhD. Susan Wheelan on group development and how to operate through the different maturity stages of a team.

The commitment to grow and develop as both individuals and teams is amazing here, and the interest in development initiatives and programs is huge. So we were struggling a bit with facilitator bandwidth. We do have a healthy number of Learning & Development professionals in the GreenHouse team, but we also have hundreds of teams and offices in more than 50 locations. And we are growing fast, which means we need to constantly think about how an initiative will scale without going bland and generic on us.

So we needed a solution for us to reach everyone and expand beyond facilitator-led team offerings. We knew that we wanted to stick to our beliefs about mastery and autonomy. And as we operate in a complex and changing environment, it’s essential that everyone stay in the driver’s seat of their own development. But we as the Learning and Development team need to provide the right vehicle and fuel.

Do It Yourself team training smorgasbord

What we are trying out right now, is a new team section in our learning portal where teams can find a whole array of self-led workshops to support in developing the team. They are ready to go. Just push play!

As we are devoted fans of Wheelan’s research and findings on how to develop productive teams, we have designed this space according to the development stages of a team, to make it possible for everyone to find what they need to take their team to the next level, and to connect back to the team development for leaders. This way everyone gets the opportunity to learn about team maturity phases, we can spread the knowledge to all the hundreds of teams in the company at a rate they choose themselves, and without hiring an army of L&D professionals that spoon-feed it to them.

We are convinced that we will get faster and better as a company when all the teams get access to this knowledge in a format that is adapted for each stage. Sharing the same language and understanding of how teams develop will help us stay nimble and adaptable both when we’re building new teams, and when we’re working in existing ones.

How to run a self-led workshop

A team that wants to learn about the development stages and jump right in at their own level can start with doing a Team Development-check, to see which stage they are at. The results will lead them to the right section in the extensive library of workshops connected to each stage. The workshops come with guidelines, facilitator- and presentation decks. The team can also choose to just dive in and pick-and-mix workshops for team days or off-sites as needed and wanted. Our Learning and Development partners are always near and ready to advise on next steps (even more so now than before as they’re not being pulled between facilitating workshops).

But of course the work doesn’t end after the workshop, in fact, that is when the real work begins for the team; when they apply the learnings to their day-to-day work and step by step become tighter and more efficient as a team and learn from each other. This aspect is a priceless benefit.  

We are only in the beginning stages of this, and the interest so far has been amazing. We are using the team section smorgasbord to plan team development and off-sites. Managers do it together with their Learning and Development partner and we see a great development where team training is planned with a greater sense of purpose, and schedules are set up per team to really get to what each team needs.

We can’t wait to evaluate this and get back to you with some data on how it is changing our development curve! Team development on all levels is too important to be an exclusivity reserved for the leadership team. And it needs to happen all the time, not when a facilitator has an opening. This way all teams can develop all the time and everywhere. Faster than the world is changing.