Team Building

Team building efforts with the SDI and other relationship building tools take on several forms and are often connected with other efforts within the organisation. In most cases a facilitator within the organisation or an external consultant guides a team through a series of activities designed to raise members’ awareness of motives and conflict sequences – for themselves and the other team members. The facilitator will then shift to activities that lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other, followed by activities designed to promote interpersonal effectiveness. Whether conducted in a classroom setting, the employee break room, during a corporate retreat, or at an adventure-learning location, the SDI is the catalyst for learning that participants remember and apply.

The SDI and companion tools can add value in any stage of team development. The following example shows one way that a facilitator can accelerate the process of a team going through Tuckman’s 4-stage model (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing).


Consider a newly formed team, the members know of each other but have never worked together before. The SDI can be applied as soon as the team members have been identified. Facilitators in this situation tend to do fairly quick team building sessions to get people familiar with each other. The Portrait of Personal Strengths is also used frequently at this stage as it helps groups get a clear understanding of individual and overall team strengths. The Portrait provides some specific details that would not be apparent from the SDI alone. Some facilitators like to use the Portrait as the entry point to create a team resume – a description of the group’s values, skills, and interests. The overwhelmingly positive nature of the SDI ensures that people get started with the understanding that everyone is acting to promote feelings of self-worth. The early awareness of conflict sequences usually pays off quickly as the group will likely find itself in the storming phase before long.


Facilitators who are working with groups in the Storming stage get great value from the Portrait of Overdone Strengths. This Portrait identifies potential sources of unwarranted conflict. Team members become more aware of the impact their behaviour has on each other. With this awareness, they are more empowered to borrow behaviour and be more effective. The Feedback Edition of the SDI and the Feedback Portraits are commonly used in this stage to get more specific about interpersonal perceptions between certain team members who are experiencing conflict.


Teams that undertake a 360-degree feedback effort in the Norming stage can more quickly progress to the Performing stage. One way to accomplish this with a small team is to have each team member complete the Feedback Edition of the SDI and the Expectations Edition of the SDI for each team member (larger teams may want to limit the number of feedback providers). Each team member can then compare a 360-degree report of the way they are perceived to behave and compare it with a 360-degree report of how other expect them to behave. Teams use discussions about expectations vs. feedback to generate norms, identify behaviour that is outside the norms, and design action plans to achieve high-performance.


Performing teams are often accountable for projects within the organisation. These teams can achieve higher quality results in less time after training with “Project Management: The Team Approach,” a Facilitation Guide and Participant Workbook that recognises the importance of relationships in project teams. This low-tech training guides teams through the process of gaining consensus and commitment about project objectives and generating a simple project plan, which can become the basis for input to whatever software the team selects. It is principle-based and has applicability to all types of teams managing all types of projects. (For more details on “Project Management: The Team Approach” click here.)

Breaking up the team

Many teams’ purpose is to work themselves out of a job. When high performing teams are broken up, their members are highly sought after by other teams within (and outside of) the organisation. When multiple teams within an organisation use a similar approach to training and development, the process of adding new team members can run more smoothly – keeping projects on schedule and retaining high-performers.