Team cohesion plays a significant role in performance, but it’s easier said than done to achieve. While assigning the blame to team members may be tempting, leaders are ultimately responsible for developing and nurturing team cohesion.

This starts with quality hires, but it does not stop there. Companies may be able to attract top talent, but without setting up a cohesive workforce, the talent is laid to waste.

If you feel stuck when it comes to moving your team forward in a collaborative spirit, where cohesion becomes second nature, read on for 6 tips on changing the dynamic of your team. The payoff will come in happier and more engaged employees, less turnover and a boost to your bottom line.

What makes a team cohesive?

Cohesive teams are united in pursuit of a common goal. They work efficiently and effectively as a group, with each member engaged in the work and also connected and bonded to her team members. Cohesiveness comes when the team members trust each other and their leader, and the group knows how to maximize its collective strengths and minimize weaknesses. Team cohesion is so vital in the workplace that numerous research studies have explored how it is best achieved and why it matters. Additionally, resources may be available both within your organization and outside of it to improve your team’s cohesiveness. If you are a leader struggling with cohesion, reach out to your company’s human resources or onboarding executives for additional help, and consider the tips we have outlined below to get started.

Why is team cohesion important?

A cohesive team will always outperform one that is out of sync. Consider, for example, a rowing team. Crew members must work together to win; even the best coxswain cannot get his team across the finish line first if they are not rowing as a cohesive unit. In a workplace, without cohesion, every employee is rowing in a different direction; some may have dropped their oars, or others may be standing on the dock, still hesitant to board the boat. Team cohesion is essential to completing any task as a group and achieving any goal. Beyond achieving goals, it is also critical to keep employees engaged and happy in the workplace. Lack of trust in teams, whether they do not trust their leaders, colleagues or both, will inevitably lead to turnover.

How to build team cohesion in 6 steps 

Team cohesion does not happen overnight; it is built by utilizing best practices, day in and day out, over time. It begins with recruiting true team players in interviews, and leaders must stay focused on how to unite those players as a whole.

1. Establish a shared vision

Team members flounder without a clear strategy. To work together to achieve a goal, employees need to understand the company’s vision and their team’s place in it.

Leaders who issue orders without taking time to explain a strategy will end up with unhappy employees who lack the motivation to get the job done.

 A cohesive team fully understands its objectives and how to achieve them. They also trust their team leader can provide the tools and resources they need to do their work effectively.

2. Choose collaboration over competition

One of the best tools a team leader provides to her members is plentiful opportunities to collaborate. While a little healthy competition can sometimes work, it can backfire if it leads to resentment within the ranks. Collaboration is a better way to ensure the team works as a cohesive unit. Savvy leaders have an eye for pairing employees who could combine their talents to achieve results (more on that below).

3. Lead with active listening, and be receptive to feedback

Managers set the tone for how the team operates, and active listening is one of the best ways to ensure a positive outcome. When managers are active listeners who welcome constructive feedback, they create teams where colleagues are encouraged to do the same for each other.

4. Eliminate communication barriers

One of the most important components of developing team cohesiveness is ensuring the lines of communication remain open between a leader and team members and between the team members. Get them talking. Find ways, especially with remote employees, to encourage connections. If an employee calls you with a problem you know another team member has already faced (and solved), send them to that team member for some coaching. Help your team connect not only about work projects but also find ways for them to connect personally. You might realize two team members are diehard foodies and would bond over recipes or find a way to connect with two others who both practice martial arts. These kinds of connections may seem small, but they greatly impact building trust and cohesiveness.

5. Leverage team members’ unique strengths

Teams function best when their strengths are maximized, and their weaknesses minimized. By creating opportunities where strengths are leveraged, you give team members a chance to bring their very best to the table, earning the trust and respect of their colleagues. Pairing team members who bring different strengths to the table (for example, one who is creative and one who is analytical) also yields positive results.

6. Celebrate small wins along the way to bigger-picture goals

Cohesiveness also develops when teams are consistently motivated and encouraged along the way. Give the team a chance to celebrate wins, even the small wins, which creates an important sense of camaraderie.

Utilize the trusted methodology of Tribe of Agile

If you are struggling to develop cohesiveness within your team, put your trust in the proven agile methodology with Tribe of Agile. The agile method makes teams more independent while enabling knowledge sharing between team members who don’t work together daily.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can transform your team and generate the desired results.

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