Cohesiveness holds a group together voluntarily. Staff will operate better as individuals if they consider themselves part of a well-functioning, supportive, and happy team. As committed participants in the group, they are more productive, communicative, trusting, motivated, and loyal. If you want to ensure your staff becomes a winning team, you should consider these suggestions to foster cohesiveness…
1. Be aware of the features of a cohesive team.
What are the characteristics of a team you are striving to establish? According to Douglas McGregor, the ideal team displays these features:
- The atmosphere is informal, comfortable, and relaxed.
- Everyone participates in discussions. Members listen to each other. Every idea is given an adequate airing.
- The goals of the group are understood and accepted by all.
- There is constructive disagreement. The group seeks resolution rather than domination of any dissenter.
- Decisions are reached by consensus.
- Criticism is frequent, frank, and comfortable. All members are free to express their personal feelings.
- When action is agreed on, clear tasks are assigned and willingly accepted.
- Members share beliefs and values, and benefit from each other’s support and recognition.
- The group displays a united front.
- The leader does not dominate, nor does the group unduly defer to him or her.
2. Promote interaction between staff members.
Effective teamwork occurs when group members feel positive towards each other. Act as a catalyst to create and maintain a network of interpersonal relationships among group members. Arrange regular meetings that are either work-related or social. Organise an annual barbecue or similar function where colleagues can get to know each other better.
3. Set clear, attainable goals and priorities.
When everyone in the team knows ‘where we are going and why’, and helps to set those objectives, there is greater potential for cooperation and high morale.
4. Clarify and negotiate roles.
Just like a football team, your staff members need to know who is playing in what position and how to play together confidently and effectively. The way they play will be determined by their beliefs about the group, its members, and their place in the scheme of things.
To clarify such roles, have team members share this information:
- What I get from you that I want
- What I get from you that I don’t want
- What I don’t get from you that I want.
Then discuss individual contributions. Clarify and modify the roles and expectations until members are satisfied.
Using this technique, members will see that their own performance depends on the performance of others and this understanding creates a strong sense of unity, loyalty, and interdependence.
5. Stress teamwork and ownership.
Show your commitment to the team principle at all times. ‘I don’t care who gets the credit as long as we achieve our goals’ is the attitude to be fostered in the group. Talk about ‘we’, ‘our company’, ‘what we hope to achieve’ – positive suggestions that reflect a cohesive unit.
6. Provide leadership support to the team.
How can you increase and maintain each member’s sense of personal worth and importance as a group member? Consider these strategies:
- Work with everyone. You may work very well with some people – but don’t let this lead to the exclusion of others.
- Give everyone a piece of the action, something they can be identifying with and recognised for.
- Keep the group informed.
- Look for opportunities to tap into the talents and develop the skills of each member.
- Explore ways to let everyone publicly share the glory of his or her achievement.
- Rotate jobs in the group (if possible) so that members identify with the team as a whole rather than with their own individual jobs.
- Ensure that all members are free to express their views to the group.
As team leader you must foster the trust and confidence of all members of your team. This may take time but, without this rapport, group cohesion might not materialise.
7. Facilitate task accomplishment.
Ensure that team members are provided with the equipment, facilities, work methods, and time-table for accomplishing group goals. Focus also on solving any problems that interfere with goal achievement and the building of a team identity.
8. Acknowledge good work.
Your task is to build a group of willing, cooperative people who work together in a climate of acceptance, support, and trust. Recognition and appreciation of every member’s contribution are vitally important.