Building Cohesive Teams

Every individual is unique and has different strengths and weaknesses.  Our strengths can be exploited for the benefit of the organization; whereas our weaknesses push us to learn new skills for our professional development. Having individuals in a team with different capabilities can be fruitful for any workplace, if differences are respected and utilized well.

Every individual will work as part of a team or different teams at some point in his/her career. Team’s cohesiveness is crucial to align all members towards a common goal and work effectively together to achieve it. Cohesive teams are capable of functioning more efficiently towards their mission. This cohesiveness does not come naturally. It is something to be fostered with understanding, tolerance to diversity, trust, and open communication. Cohesive teams are more likely to succeed when members understand their roles and responsibilities in a clear and transparent direction, and when they are working under a fair system.

The most effective teams are products of great leaders – they don’t just happen. Great leaders understand that a cohesive team worth much more than its individual members each one alone. The collective wisdom of the whole system is invaluable. When we define the unique gift of each individual and keep nurturing it by allowing him/her to practice it more within the team, under good management, the resulting energy will help reaching our goals much faster.

Any organization may have some of the best employees with great capabilities, but if they are not willing to work together as a team, or unable to blend due to any reason, we become limited in terms of what we can achieve. It becomes an individual play, where members are stabbing the back of each other to reach their individual goals. And the organization goes nowhere.

Building a cohesive team or refining an existing one requires a lot of efforts. Here are some practices that can help you achieve the best results:

ê  Clear mission

Before forming a team, educate the members about its mission. Decide the goals of the group and the strategy for its execution. Select team members who will contribute best to this mission. Having no clear mission is like working without a purpose.

ê  Communication agreement

Making an agreement on how team members want to communicate in advance will save you a lot of time when conflicts happen. Define the needs of each member, how they will communicate them, and what is best to be done to bring them back to the team when conflict arises. Define any trigger words or expressions to be avoided by other members and explore their meanings to each individual.

ê  Growth in diversity

People of different genders, ages, experiences, and backgrounds can contribute a lot to a team’s success. Diverse teams possess varying skills and capabilities. When a leader infuses an atmosphere of acceptance and respect, he can easily exploit those skills to achieve the team’s mission, and consequently the organization’s big vision.

ê  Invest in strengths more than weaknesses

No human being is complete. We all have strengths that we do naturally, and skills that we are not very good at. When we focus more on individuals’ weaknesses, we may end up spending a lot of time, money and efforts to reach a limited level of enhancement, let alone affecting the employee’s psyche as s/he will keep thinking they are not good enough and must keep on improving themselves, which will lower their enthusiasm, energy levels, and appetite to work. While when we give extra care to their natural strengths, it will boost their confidence and willing to work, and their weaknesses will fade gradually as they are compensated by their natural strengths.

ê  Utilize individual strengths

Studying strengths and weaknesses of everyone in the team will help you to delegate work accordingly. Using each member’s expertise and strength is the best way for the group to accomplish its goals. Communicate what everyone is responsible and accountable for.

ê  Collaborative work

Giving opportunities and platforms to your team where collaborative work is encouraged helps the members to build interpersonal skills. Encourage discussions when a problem arises and seek a solution by involving the entire team.

ê  Provide and seek feedback

Giving and receiving feedback helps the team to function constructively. It also helps the team to realize whether they are going in the right direction or not. While giving the feedback, explain what worked well and what didn’t. Also, ask for their feedback. Multiple opinions can reflect on the flaws of the process. This way team members will feel that their opinion is valuable, and they are part of a cohesive team.

ê  Communication gateways

Communication barriers can restraint your team members to voice out their opinions and function productively. Give clear instructions and set achievable deadlines. Team members can easily get frustrated if the guidelines are not clear and they don’t see a proper channel to communicate. Such barriers can prevent the team from performing well.

ê  Maintain a fair system

Avoid bias in your judgment. Your team members can easily become unmotivated if their efforts are not appreciated. Give more weight to merit. Unfair favoritism can lead to conflicts and demotivation among your team members.

ê  Celebrate successes

When your team achieves its targets and becomes successful in accomplishing its established goals, it is important to recognize them for it. Ensure your group knows that you appreciate their work, and you thank them for it.

Building cohesive teams is an on-going process. Every new project can bring different challenges and demands for solutions. At the same time, it is an opportunity to draw team members closer and strengthen their connections, by utilizing their curiosity to learn about themselves and each other.

It is important to consistently ensure that your team members are working effectively together to achieve the desired results. Train your team members and give them opportunities to build and enhance their skills. Though building a cohesive team can be challenging, the rewards are always fruitful. 

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