Team Cohesion: Collaboration of Like-Minded Individuals to Perform

team cohesion

At some point in our lives, we have been part of a team. In the team, different roles require different skills that one person would not accomplish alone. One person could have multiple skills but might not be able to fulfill the duties of every role or position. For example, in soccer, the defender may run fast and even score goals, but his or her primary role is to prevent the other team from scoring. If he or she is not in the right position, the whole team loses the game. The same case applies to any group that is formed---especially in the workplace---where the need for team cohesion can't be understated.

What Is Team Cohesion?

Team cohesion is the collaboration of like-minded individuals to perform small tasks to achieve a larger goal. They may choose to form the group or are randomly assigned to accomplish this specific objective. Regardless, they work together for the benefit of their organization. A cohesive team is one where members look beyond individual differences and focus on accomplishing the team's goals. The members have different skill sets that complement each other to form an effective and efficient team.

Is There a Need for Team Cohesion?

Team cohesion has both negative and positive sides to both the individual and the team in an organization.

Advantages of Team Cohesion

  • More input and effort from team members to the broader team goals
  • Better communication among the team members thus ensuring objectives gets completed promptly
  • Job satisfaction among individuals and the team collectively
  • Better decision-making skills and more group participation since individuals don’t exhibit tension and anxiety when working towards completing tasks
  • More completed projects and teams in better position to pursue new tasks

Disadvantages of Team Cohesion

  • Conditions individuals to function as a group, which can kill off creativity and promote mediocrity
  • Too much identity found in team: working in a team for a long time, a person can adapt the team values and life may lose meaning outside the team
  • Social loafing: an individual is lazy and hides this behind the efforts of the other team members

Four Stages to Team Development

Bruce Tuckman, an accomplished researcher in group dynamics, noticed that there are four stages team leaders can use to build and establish team cohesiveness. These are:

Forming


When a need arises to create a team, time should be allocated for the team members to get to know each other. Each person is also informed of the role he or she is expected to play and the team’s objectives and parameters. Here, the team leader can implement team-building activities that allow members to bond. The team leader could also allow for a short grace period where people can learn the structures and procedures of the organization. Constant meetings and open communication are vital.

Storming


Despite being on a team, an individual may still want to perform their tasks alone rather than with the team. This usually is true for a new team as each person has a different and preferred way of doing things. It is up to the team leader to make the structures and procedures clear to everyone. This helps to avoid confusion and ensures everyone is on the same page. There should be open and constant communication channels among the team members and the leader. This allows everyone to express themselves, and in the case of disagreements, conflict resolution methods are employed.

Norming


After a period of resistance, team cohesion becomes clear as team members have settled into their roles. Cooperation and unity between everyone becomes easier and more natural. Both individual and group goals are achieved without much conflict. For this to happen, there should be consistent meetings where people can raise concerns about any hurdle they face. It is also a way for everyone to get on the same page on the team goals. The team leader may also encourage activities outside the norm to continue building team cohesion among the members.

Performing


Finally, the team is now operating at optimal capacity. There is hopefully communication, trust and cooperation between everyone. Team members understand the benefit of working as a team to achieve their goals. For this to continue, each team member needs to feel that his or her value and efforts are appreciated by the group. The team leader should acknowledge individual and group victories and lead the celebration of these wins. He or she should establish new goals that the team can tackle but still maintain the frequent team meetings for updates.

Practices that Are Important in Team Development

  • Writing down the teams’ objectives and what is required of the whole team and individually by the organization
  • Recording team and individual performances and the overall business goals: this will help to root out nonperformers hiding behind other people
  • Constantly training to improve interpersonal skills among team members
  • Establishing and committing to a clear hierarchy that the team members look up to for guidance regarding crucial decisions
  • Making team aware of reward system for exemplary individual and team performance
  • Keeping transparency between the groups and the senior managers at all times

How to Inspire Team Cohesion

For an organization to succeed at team cohesion development, emotional intelligence is vital. There should be interpersonal awareness, empathy, self-esteem, basic decision-making skills, mutual respect, motivation and compassion. Emotional intelligence enables the cultivation of norms among a cohesive unit. This helps to build trust, efficiency and habits among the members that are part of a team. So how can a group leader inspire team cohesion among his or her team?

Create Confidence among Team Members


Make the team aware of their strengths so that each member can appreciate what the other brings to the table. This builds confidence in the group and consequently, in the individual. People get to understand other team members deeper thus building trust in the team. This makes it easier to accomplish team goals. One way to achieve this is through team-building exercises where the team members go away together and attempt to learn more about each other away from the work setup. People tend to open up more in an informal setting; also, through games, they are likely to display their skills for others to see.

Create an Environment That Promotes Positivity


When dealing with several individuals, interpersonal conflicts arise due to different personalities. A good team leader should provide a safe space for team members to express themselves when they are displeased with something. Anger, frustration and tension can lower the team’s productivity and should be addressed as soon as they occur. There should be an environment that allows a lighthearted conversation among team members where people can express happiness, delight and jokes among other positive emotions.

Communication


Constant communication helps build team cohesion. Team leaders should communicate the team's mission to the members, and the members should get the chance to air their concerns. A team with strong communication channels creates room for positive criticism within the team, and this leads to improvements. Team members can also practice their teamwork skills by talking in meetings and other official activities. It also enables the team leader and the team to give and ask for feedback freely.

Reward Good Performance


Team cohesion improves when team members get credit for the small wins. It would be unfair to have people work hard and not acknowledge the successes they achieve. Admiration and gratitude are essential to a team as they build morale and cement the team’s identity. Recognition for good work may be in form of congratulatory speeches or awards. This shows each person that his or her efforts are appreciated. This can be done on the spot or at end-of-year parties where people are awarded gifts and bonuses for their contributions.

Conclusion

Again, a cohesive team is one where members look beyond individual differences and focus on accomplishing the team's goals; the members have different skill sets that complement each other to form an effective and efficient team. Overall, team cohesion is what separates a successful team from a regular one. An organization where members work together seamlessly achieves its intended goals on time and fullly utilizes its resources.

People look at the senior managers and think they are the reason that a company is raking in millions. To an extent, this is true because they are qualified in their own respect. But they are successful because they understand their employees; they are able to get the best out of them by forming effective and formidable teams. Team cohesion cannot be assumed when a team is new. It is learned, and the process of team development should be encouraged. It should a continous exercise that is part of the organizational culture.

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