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Developing better teams

If you lead a team or are a member of a team, this course is for you. It encourages and gives practical advice to those who want to improve how their team works together and how it delivers - it also looks at how to challenge teams that are already performing well. Through a series of micro case studies, the course looks at real-world team challenges. You will explore and commit to implementing fresh and creative ways of team working and team leading. By the end of the course you should have a tailored action plan for enhancing your team.

Standalone study only

You will not be awarded credits for studying this course. It is available for standalone study only and cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Short course

Short course code
This is a non-credit bearing course.
Study method
Distance Learning
Short course cost
See Registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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What you will study

Developing better teams is a concentrated but practical look at working with and leading teams. The materials are delivered via sessions of online study which include learning materials in a variety of formats. You will develop a deeper understanding of the complex challenges facing teams today – and you will gain knowledge of approaches used to overcome these. 

The course covers the following areas of study:

Picking and knitting teams: This is about how teams are formed and re-formed. We look, not just at putting together a new healthy team, but what to do with existing teams – whatever shape they are in.

Team talk: Here we focus on communication within and across teams. We consider communication as the glue that keeps a team as a team, and discover ways of enhancing team relationships through effective dialogue and information systems.

Teams travelling and challenging together: How to cope with, and even exploit, conflict within teams. We discuss the nature of ‘challenge’ and how to move from mere compromise to effective collaboration.

The 'I' in team - Investment: A major theme in this unit is how we can reconcile individual ambitions, agendas and objectives with those of the team - by investing in ourselves and each other.

Each unit starts with an overview and learning objectives, followed by distinct sub-units. Each sub-unit begins with a micro case study or scenario in which a manager relates a team issue or team management dilemma. You are then invited to critically engage with the scenario, using it as a stimulus to consider your own work practice and behaviour.

Activities throughout the course build up a bank of reflections and responses which can be applied in the final (assessed) element of the course, the work-based activity.

Activities are structured to capture significant reflections on past and current experiences of team-life, then turn these into something of value in the future. This will empower you to take new approaches to team work and team leadership. Participants are supported to develop scenarios in their own working context, and to foresee situations in which course knowledge can be directly applied.

The strong link between course learning and your work practice creates relevant, enduring and transferable outcomes. It requires no more than 25 hours of your time in total, over whatever period suits you. 

The course features the distinctive strengths of the The Open University (OU) from its years of expertise in work-based learning: 

  • The convenience of accessing its clearly presented and sequenced materials, activities and support whenever suits you and wherever you have access to the dedicated website – if you prefer, you can print key materials to work on them offline.
  • The support of an expert learning adviser who can clarify study materials, answer questions and help you relate the course to your specific needs.
  • A work-based activity helping you to connect the course to your individual and organisational context and needs. A learning adviser will review your work-based activity and provide personal feedback.

Certification of completion from the OU for those who complete the course. You can use this to demonstrate your continuing professional development (CPD) activity to your employer and/or professional body. (NB The course does not carry academic credit points.)

You will learn

After completing this course you should able to:
  • Understand how differences within teams can be turned to a team’s advantage
  • Appreciate the complexity of team dynamics
  • Chart a typical team ‘life cycle’ and appreciate the value and problems of modelling team development in stages
  • Recognise and value ‘challenge’ in teams
  • Critically evaluate your own approach to team communications
  • Consider the importance of context and style in any transfer of information across teams
  • Be more aware of and sensitive to ‘unspoken’ agendas
  • Recognise team interactions that nurture trust and strengthen a team’s capacity to support itself and innovate
  • Have confidence in reconciling individual ambition with team objectives
  • Identify ways of developing teams in under-resourced and time-poor conditions
  • Recognise and articulate the value of investing in team development
  • ‘Sell’ ideas of team-development back to teams.

Professional recognition

Successful completion of the course enables us to recognise your achievement of the course learning by issuing an OU certificate that you can use to document your commitment to continuing professional development in your personal portfolio, or to provide evidence to employers or professional bodies.

Learner support

Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser, who will respond to you direct within 24 hours. Other support is available via the course forum, library, StudentHome website and computing helpdesk.

Work-based activity

The work-based activity for this course has been designed as an integrated ongoing activity that you submit at the end of your study. It will allow you to reflect on your learning and how to use it in your professional work.

Outside the UK

This course has been written primarily for European context, but will have significant relevance to other contexts.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations, which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    Although there are no formal academic requirements to study any of our CPD courses, you are expected to have some experience in the field and the course assumes a familiarity with the subject.

    You can register and begin at any time during the life of the course. You can study at your own pace and submit your work-based activity at any date before the final submission date for the course.

    Please note that depending on when you register, you will have at least 6 months to submit your work based activity. Information about your final submission date is available when you register for the course. If you feel 6 months may not be sufficient time for your study and submission, please contact us to discuss your study options, including current final submission date before you register.


    Start End England fee Register
    At anytime Flexible - see Entry requirements for more detail £295.00 Register

    Ways to pay

    Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

    Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

    The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2019/20 academic year. Fees for short courses starting in the 2020/21 academic year or later may increase in line with the University’s strategic approach to fees.

    What's included

    All learning materials, exercises, study support and work-based activity are delivered entirely online.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    The course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs. If you are a new learner with the OU, make sure that you look at our website.