Building a cohesive team is a proven recipe for success in every industry and organization.
A team, especially in the business sector, consists of individuals with varying qualities and personalities.
However, what makes them a great team is working together towards achieving a common goal or objective.
To stand the chances of getting success, they need to work together as a unit.
In fact, when there is unity among team members, it doesn’t matter how much talent the individuals have. Together, they can make great exploits.
That is why it comes as no surprise that we have many teams achieving success and reaching great heights.
If you needed any more proof that a strong, cohesive and united team can do great exploits, all you need to do is look at the tiniest of ants.
These very little creatures possess the ability to lift things twice or thrice their sizes.
What helps them achieve this is the conscious united efforts of every one of the team members.
The secret is team cohesion.
This post focuses on what team cohesion really means, why it is important, especially in the work environment, and how to build a cohesive team.
Therefore, whether you are a business owner, a manager, human resource personnel, a team leader, or even an employee, the information provided herein would be of immense benefit to you.
Hence, let’s consider what a cohesive team is all about.
How to Build a Cohesive Team – What is a Cohesive Team?
As mentioned in the introduction to this article, you recognize a team when you have individuals working together towards a common goal.
In all levels of life, you will always find teams, either brought together by the individuals who wish to achieve a common objective or by an individual who wants to use the team to get a set goal.
However, a cohesive team is a team where the team members are united while achieving common goals.
Team cohesion is measured by the degree of closeness between the team members and the satisfaction each team member feels by contributing to the team’s success.
You can see a team as the human body consisting of different parts or members.
You would agree that the body would be more likely to function properly when each member is involved and work in tandem.
However, if a part of the body is not operating in an optimum state, it can equally affect the entire system’s function.
That is what team cohesion is all about.
How to Build a Cohesive Team – Factors that Affect or Influence Team Cohesion
Certain factors tend to influence how cohesive a team I; one of them is the size of the team.
Usually, it might be more difficult to attain team cohesion on a team that consists of very many members or a large team.
Remember that humans are born with different personalities.
These personality traits often determine how easy they are to work with and how understanding they are.
When you have a small team, it might be easier to get them cohesive because you’ve successfully limited the number of personality clashes you have to deal with.
Another factor that would usually affect the cohesiveness of a team is the interests of the members.
You will find that unity of mind, thoughts, and purpose is easier to achieve when people share similar interests or the same interests.
In such situations, the goal and objectives are clearer, and everyone is determined to achieve them because the interests are similar.
On the other hand, when a team has differing interests, it might be challenging to build cohesiveness for such a team. Each individual might be more prone to navigate towards their own personal interests.
The degree and frequency of success experienced by a team can also affect the team’s cohesiveness.
Success has its way of reassuring those who contributed to it and make them want to repeat the process that brought about that success in the first place or even do more.
However, when shared success within a team is far-fetched, that can affect team cohesion, as the team members begin to doubt their capabilities to produce results.
The choice of team activities also affects the cohesion of the team.
When the team embarks on enjoyable activities and offers satisfaction to the team members, they are more likely to unite.
However, when the team activities are not that enjoyable or beneficial, this can negatively impact the team’s cohesiveness.
Importance of Building a Cohesive Team
Team cohesion should be of great interest to every well-meaning leader.
It is one thing to bring together individuals and call them a team, whereas it is a completely different thing to make them function unitedly.
If you dedicate your time, energy, and other resources to building cohesion on your team, you will experience the following benefits:
It Improves Performance
One of the main benefits of having a cohesive team is that this cohesion makes the members of the teamwork together as a unit.
Of course, when you have several individuals working together as a unit, the performance level you get from them supersedes what you get from a single individual.
A cohesive team improves the team’s performance and improves the performance of the individuals in the team in their job roles.
This is so because they can count on the assistance of their colleagues, as the goal of cohesion is collaboration and togetherness.
It Makes Work Faster; Increases Productivity
One example we can use to explain how a cohesive team makes work more efficient and faster is looking at the work of a broom.
Imagine having to sweep a large dirty room with a single broomstick or even 4 sticks.
How fast can you get the job done with that task? Not very fast, you would agree.
However, what if you are given a bunch of broomsticks, many of them, all tied together as a unit?
No doubt, the job gets easier, and you can complete it in no time.
That is the same impact that a cohesive team has on job efficiency and productivity.
Productivity is usually measured in the output that is produced with the input.
When you build a cohesive team, you are directly increasing the input, bringing all hands on deck to get a project or task over the line.
This would, in turn, make them more efficient, and they can complete such tasks quickly.
No wonder there is a saying that “Two are better than one.”
You can only imagine what people in their tens would accomplish.
It Increases Morale and Satisfaction
Another benefit of having a cohesive team is that it boosts the team’s morale.
One of the factors identified to build employees’ morale is engagement and success, which a cohesive team helps you accomplish.
A cohesive team allows each team member to contribute and see how they can personally contribute to the team’s progress and success.
When this happens, it naturally makes them more motivated and also improves their job satisfaction.
It Improves Interpersonal Relationship
A good interpersonal relationship is achieved in an organization where there is unity and open communication.
This is also another benefit of having a cohesive team in your organization.
When you build a cohesive team, you create an environment where people are free to share their opinions, ideas, and views with others daily.
This constant communication will help your team members see the best in their colleagues and make them appreciate each other more.
In turn, this will eventually improve the interpersonal relationship between your employees in the organization.
It Increases the Team’s Ability to Withstand Pressure
To understand this benefit, let’s take you back to the example of the broomstick referenced earlier.
If you were asked to break a single broomstick into two or even many tiny pieces, how easy would it be?
Well, very easy, you would agree. In fact, you could bank on a 2-year old to perform that task.
However, how easy would it be to break a bunch of broomsticks in their tens or hundreds?
Now, that is a challenging task and might even be impossible to pull off.
That is exactly what a cohesive team does for you.
Your team will, at some point, face different kinds of pressure, whether internally or externally.
They need to have the needed strength to withstand these pressures and overcome them.
A cohesive team stands a better chance at achieving this than a team that isn’t.
When there is no cohesion, it’s easier to break under pressure.
Now to the focal point of this discussion.
How to Build a Cohesive Team
A cohesive team doesn’t just happen, and it is not automated when you bring together people to be part of a team.
Rather, a cohesive team is what you consciously work to build, and it takes deliberate effort.
You might be responsible for building a cohesive team, whether you are the employer who gathered the team or an employee who leads the team.
Whichever the case, here are some strategies that can help you build a cohesive team successfully:
Hire People who are the Right Fit for your Organization
This is arguably the most important strategy to help you build a cohesive team.
It is easier to have team cohesion when you hire the right fit of employees in the first place.
To determine the right fit for your organization, you first need to identify the organization’s objectives and culture.
It is worth noting that an employee who is a right fit for another company might not be the right fit for yours.
When choosing the right fit for your organization, consider the personality traits of the job applicants, as this plays a vital role in team cohesiveness.
Also, carefully assess the candidates on their interests and career path to see if they align with your company’s goals.
If they do, you are more likely to bring together a team that works in cohesion and unity.
Recruit Diverse Individuals
Still, there is also a need to hire diverse individuals at the recruitment or hiring phase to build a cohesive team.
This diversity might include age, social status, experience, background, culture, personality e.t.c.
What diversity gets you is a team consisting of individuals of mixed personalities, expertise, and experience.
This will foster innovation and creativity and also help to improve job efficiency.
On the other hand, if you bring together people who are too similar, the knowledge levels might be low, and when problems arise, there is a lack of innovative ideas from all quarters.
This, in turn, can frustrate the team and affect the team’s cohesion.
Make the Mission, Goals, and Expectations Clear
Another way to build a cohesive team, especially in the workplace, is to clearly identify and communicate your company’s mission, goals, and expectations.
Sometimes, a team struggles to work together cohesively because they do not understand what the company is trying to achieve and what you want.
That is why it is your responsibility first to determine your mission; then, you can bring together the best team to help accomplish this.
Additionally, communicate these goals with your team, and let them know what you expect of them.
This can help you build a cohesive team, where everyone works unitedly to meet those goals.
Set the Example in Fostering Unity and Trust
Leadership by example, they say the best form of leadership.
Looking at the evidence, it is hard not to agree with that assertion.
People are more likely to copy your fine examples than listening to the rules and tutorials you give on something.
Also, when it comes to building a cohesive team, your examples can really do wonders.
You want to show that you trust everyone on your team by engaging and giving them responsibilities.
Trust them also enough to share important information and knowledge about the business with them.
When it comes to unity, also endeavor to work closely with your team, maintaining open communication and collaboration.
This fine example can equally help your team see the need for cohesion by trusting one another more and working together.
Resolve Conflicts Promptly
A very serious threat to team cohesion is conflicts in the workplace.
This is so because of the different personalities of the individuals making up the team.
To ensure you build a cohesive team, you should take prompt action to resolve conflicts as soon as they occur.
You should be attentive enough to notice when there are frictions between two or more of your employees and do not waste time in addressing such.
When you resolve conflicts quickly, it stops them from worsening and damaging the relationship between your team members, and that way, you can build a more cohesive team.
Put Emphasis on Teamwork
Check the tasks, projects, and assignments you have in your organization.
How many of them require the collective effort of a team?
Could it be that most of your tasks are to individuals, and few or none require teamwork?
If that is so, you might struggle to build a cohesive team.
A cohesive team doesn’t just happen.
You need to be deliberate about it by your actions and decisions.
Also, one crucial step you can take towards that is making your team see the importance of teamwork.
You can also organize some team-building activities, either at work or outside work, to bring the team together.
The more a team works together on projects and other activities, the more they have unity and the cohesion you seek.
Give and Ask for Feedback
Suppose you are to build a cohesive team in your organization; feedback is essential.
That means you should always let them know what you think about what they are doing.
You do not want to leave your team confused about whether or not they are meeting up to set expectations and when they need to improve.
When you give genuine and constructive criticism, it helps the team to know what they’re doing well and the right strategies that bring in results.
This would help the team intensify their efforts in the areas that work or try new methods to give them better results.
You should not only give feedback, but you should also ask for regular feedback from your team.
When you invite your team members to provide you with feedback openly, it shows them that you value them and appreciate their contributions.
Open communication goes both ways, and when you give feedback and receive the same, it can help you build a more cohesive team.
Teach How to Disagree Respectfully
The fact remains that you cannot expect all team members to always agree on a subject or a decision.
There will be disagreement at some points within the team, and this is actually a good sign.
That is the reason why you employ people of diverse knowledge, interests, and personalities in the first place.
Hence, do not feel that your efforts in achieving team cohesion are not successful when you have disagreements among employees.
On the contrary, see this as a positive sign, and teach them how to disagree without disrespect.
Let them know they do not have to argue just for the sake of it and that disagreeing with someone else’s opinions doesn’t need to get disrespectful and disparaging.
With that, you can avoid situations that might result in breaking apart the team.
That is because of a clash of opinions and rather maintain a cohesive team.
Respect the Contributions of Everyone
One of the threats to team unity and cohesion is showing favoritism or taking a team member’s contributions as more important than others.
Recall that the goal of putting people with differing abilities and skills on the same team is to leverage their individual areas of strengths.
Hence, be sure to accord every team member the same level of respect as they deserve.
Do not give your team the impression that one person’s contributions supersede that of another.
If you were to do that, it could make the team members feel distant from each other and make your organization a breeding ground for contempt/envy.
They might even get to a point where they stop trying to give their best because they’ve concluded that you will not value it.
Hence, respect for every member of a team can help in building team cohesion.
Acknowledge and Celebrate Team Success
It is a natural phenomenon for people to see and feel that their input and contributions are valuable.
Your team puts great effort and commitment into ensuring they complete projects and meet the business’ goals and objectives.
Acknowledging their efforts and celebrating their success can give them the needed confidence to keep going.
There are various ways you can celebrate team success.
You can do this by giving them official recognition by way of words of appreciation.
You can even give them other benefits.
A team that experiences the joy that comes from whatever success they can accomplish will be more cohesive and united.
After all, who wouldn’t want to experience that feeling of joy and satisfaction over again?
Final Remarks on How to Build a Cohesive Team
There is no limit to what a strong and cohesive team can accomplish.
As an employer, there is a limit to what you can do on your own.
However, when you work with the right people, then you can make great progress.
Also, you can be successful in your business endeavor.
Remember, though, that a cohesive team doesn’t happen overnight.
Neither is it something you get out of luck.
It involves full commitment, hard work, time, and patience.
However, if you can apply the suggestions given in this article, you are already on the path to achieving this.