High team cohesion is an attractive feature in performing teams. It is the extent to which team members are aligned to the strategic and operational goals of an organization as demonstrated by how they relate with each other.
Team cohesion relates to how team members are attracted to the team and their level of motivation to remain part of the team. It determines the level of commitment and the team’s ability to move forward as one unit.
Team members are like the different cogs in a wheel which has to turn a turbine that produces a mechanical force to perform a task. The turbine can only achieve the task if all the cogs are aligned and work in harmony. It needs the ‘misalignment’ of only one cog to render the whole system unproductive.
Members of highly cohesive teams are committed to the team activities and contribute to the success of the team. Members of less cohesive teams are less concerned about the team’s welfare and its success.
Determinants of Team Cohesion
Different teams will have different levels of team cohesion based on several factors some of which are:
- Levels of interaction: A high cohesive team has members who interact well. They demonstrate a high level of interpersonal skills making them a closely knit family. The greater the contact among team members and the more time spent together, the more cohesive the team. Through frequent interactions like team meetings, social functions, training and team events members get to know one another and become more devoted to the team. There is unhindered communication where information is shared freely and team members harbor a strong sense of belonging in the team.
- Shared vision: The extent to which members share the team goals also determine the level of cohesiveness. When goals are fairly shared amongst the members there is a shared sense of purpose. Members can not only relate well with each other but also with the vision. They go beyond being co-workers to vision partners due to a high sense of belonging. A powerful vision that is well communicated to the team members will inspire hope, faith and the promise of a better future thus leading to greater self drive.
- The leadership style: The leader has the cardinal responsibility of inspiring the team members to perform their duties both effectively and efficiently. As a powerful enabler, the leader has the power to achieve team synergy by influencing willingness, cheerfulness and creative imagination in teams. Great leaders appreciate that people are different and focus on aligning all team members to the strategic direction of the business without discrimination. They take responsibility for growing capability in people.
- Personal attraction to the team: Every team member should have a strong sense of belonging to the team. When team members relate like a closely knit family they are motivated to support each other. This ensures the team moves forward in their performance as one unit. As much as it’s important for the leader to communicate the corporate vision every employee must reflect on ‘why have I chosen to be here and at a time like this? Team members who just boarded the bus of employment without knowing why and where it will take them may remain the weakest link in the chain of team cohesion.
- Recognition: When a team is recognized for its success members feel good and motivated to sustain or even exceed the results going forward. To effectively motivate people both their tangible and intangible needs must be met. The greatest kind of recognition is being responsive to other people’s needs by simply appreciating them as people.
Benefits of Team Cohesion
Every great company is a product of effective team cohesion resulting from conscious and concise efforts in developing people. The benefits of such efforts are numerous:
- Commitment – Cohesive teams have high morale due to increased communication resulting in a friendly team environment. This environment allows collaboration, accountability and team members are able to challenge each other to deliver excellence. People’s hearts are engaged to their tasks and they exhibit a high level of commitment and passion.
- Conflict management – Teams that exist more harmoniously have fewer conflicts. Team members relate as friends and not mere co-workers. Moreover when conflicts arise, they are viewed as opportunities to learn for growth. Cohesive teams endeavor to create a blame free environment where mistakes are never used to victimize team members.
- Enhanced performance – In a cohesive team, member productivity is more uniform due to the shared goals. Performance is normally consistent and progressive. Team members are able to exert pressure on each other to help influence the desired results. Every team member feels accountable for results and wouldn’t want to let down the team. There is a clear sense of purpose and competing agility to be winners.
- Low operational costs – Cohesive teams have lower operational costs as the self driven members optimize time in the delivery of results. Absenteeism is minimal whilst conflicts, which would otherwise waste a lot of management’s time in resolving, are rare.
Maintaining Team Cohesion
To maintain the appropriate levels of team synergy for enhanced productivity a leader should ensure that:
- All team members are very clear about their specific responsibilities and how they link up to the overall team objectives.
- There is adequate involvement of the team members in charting the performance direction of the team.
- Open communication is encouraged at all times and individual contributions are respected and appreciated. Members must be challenged to think creatively to help generate ideas for growth.
- There is recognition for contribution from both the individuals and the teams to help inspire them for even greater results.
- The team is adequately empowered to be able to make decisions and achieve greater ownership in executing its responsibilities.
- The leadership is responsive to people’s needs, challenging teams to deliver excellence and offers opportunities for personal growth.
- There is regular, prompt and objective performance feedback – both motivational and developmental – to help keep the team focused.
Team Building Events and Team Cohesion
People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing – Dale Carnegie
Team building events offer one of the most effective opportunities to enhance team cohesion for sustainable results. They present an informal and relaxed environment where team members can have fun and are able to interact more effectively. It is an opportunity to ventilate from the heavy demands of the job which can at times lead to burn out. The benefits of a team building event can be immense.
Outbound team building events especially provide an out of office environment that encourages people to open up and share things they would otherwise have kept to themselves. Such opportunities help people to understand each other more objectively and hence improve how they relate. It’s normally a time to put relationships into perspectives and offer candid feedback on performance. Lessons drawn from the team building exercises can be carried to the workplace for improved performance.
Team building events create an environment of fun, excitement and relaxation allowing team members to vent emotions, laugh, smile and be “child-like’. This eventually helps people to open up to each other and iron out any differences that may have existed between them. More often team members will open new chapters of friendship and growth based on new understanding.
If you desire capacity building programs that will enhance team cohesion through behavior change you can reach us on firstname.lastname@example.orgShare this inspiring article