Most people don’t know that 85% of workers in the United States alone experience some kind of conflict in the workplace on a daily basis. If people work in an office or in any other work environment that involves interacting a lot with coworkers, they would know that getting along and working together can be much harder than it sounds. Luckily, that’s why team cohesion exists.
If team cohesion sounds unfamiliar, people might wonder what it is and how it might work to reduce team conflict and increase successful teams. Fortunately, this is the right article to find answers to. In this article, it’s possible to discover the secrets behind what it takes to start working as a team.
By the end, people will find that creating cohesive teams and increasing workplace productivity has never been easier. First, let’s take a closer look at what team cohesion is exactly and why one should incorporate it into one’s workplace as fast as possible.
What Is Team Cohesion
Most people probably have worked as a team several times before in the past. They might have been part of a sports team or a club of some kind. In those teams, they might have not have had any problem working together and reaching common goals.
However, when the team they’re in is part of their job, there is a bit more stress and strain involved. After all, sports teams and clubs focus more on fun while work teams, of course, need to focus more on work. This, however, doesn’t mean that working in teams in the workplace always has to be a painful experience.
On the contrary, working in teams can be very rewarding and enjoyable if people know what they’re doing. The problem with teams at work is that every worker is unique and they most likely all have their own opinions and own methods when it comes to reaching deadlines and goals. This is one of the many reasons why conflict tends to break out when working as a group.
So, what can people do to make sure their teams at work aren’t always recipes for disaster? The answer has to do with team cohesion. Team cohesion is all about ensuring that the people in teams stick together no matter what.
Team cohesion also involves everyone working together as a unified force rather than as a bunch of different people scrambling and arguing for different things. People might assume that this is all easier said than done, and that would be correct. However, with a bit of determination and motivation, team cohesion can be a much more likely result than it sounds.
After all, no one wants to argue if they don’t have to. Arguing is exhausting, but how can people avoid it and promote team cohesion?
Why Don’t Teams Have Team Cohesion?
If anyone has ever been part of cohesive teams in the past, it’s important for them to think back on them for a moment. Think back to what made them special and well-oiled compared to less successful teams. What did those efficient teams have in common and what did they try to avoid?
These questions are important because they can help people put into perspective what details can either make a good or bad team. It might be hard to believe, but even the smallest details can make a big difference when it comes to how coworkers work together (or don’t). One of the details that tend to make a difference is that successful groups tend to care more about working together than reaching their goal.
This may sound a bit counterintuitive but think about it for a moment. If everyone in a team is focused on reaching a goal, they’re all going to try and reach that goal in different ways. This, of course, is not ideal for the quality of a team since trying to reach a goal in several different ways at once usually doesn’t work out.
This is because everyone will be more concerned with their own strategies that they might forget that they’re part of a team in the first place. If people in a team feel that they’re working individually, there obviously isn’t going to have a great team dynamic. Of course, it’s great that everyone has their own special skills and ways of approaching problems, but it’s not so great when one’s trying to get a team to work together.
On the other hand, people are likely to have a much better result when teamwork is promoted instead of individuality and independence. Unity and team cohesion allows coworkers to rely on each other, but how can people promote this?
How to Create a Cohesive Team
The mistake that many might make when trying to create cohesive teams is that they might expect team cohesion to happen all of a sudden. Many people make this mistake since it seems that as long as they tell everyone in their team what they need to do, team cohesion should follow. However, this is not necessarily the case since team cohesion needs a lot of time and patience.
This is not to say that team cohesion is so hard to achieve that people might as well not try. Instead, they’ll have to try especially hard and keep everyone in their team motivated. After a bit of time, they’ll start to see how people adapt to working together and thinking together as a team.
The reason why it takes so much effort to work as a cohesive team is that everyone in the team will need to forget how to work individually in favor of working as a team. This can be very difficult for some people, especially those who are used to working on their own and completing projects independently. Learning to accept the opinions, actions, and thoughts of other people can also be frustrating when trying to work towards a common goal, but it’s not impossible in the slightest.
Another problem that prevents the creation of team cohesion is self-awareness. If people in one’s team are not self-aware, they might not realize how their thoughts or actions can frustrate others or make it more difficult to reach a certain goal. This does not mean that these people are not material for a good team, but rather they need to become more self-aware in order for a good team to come together.
Self-Awareness and Team Cohesion
If anyone has ever met a person who is not very self-aware, they’ve undoubtedly become irritated with them at some point or another. This is because those who lack self-awareness are (as the term suggests) unaware of the influence of their actions. Because of this, those who lack self-awareness also tend to not understand other people.
This, of course, is not ideal when a person is trying to get everyone to work together as a unified group. A person who has no self-awareness will start to feel like they are not part of the group and the other people in the group will feel no need to incorporate that person. While this may be an easy and temporary solution, it is not viable or preferred in the long term.
The problems continue to worsen if several people in a team are not very self-aware. In general, a lack of self-awareness can easily cause arguments because everyone wants things to be done in their way and often without any compromises. A good way to make everyone in a team more self-aware is to allow everyone to consider their strengths and weaknesses.
After all, if they don’t take into account their own weaknesses, those weaknesses will inevitably come back to bite them when they’re working on a project. Once everyone understands what they’re good at and not good at, they will slowly start to become more self-aware. They will also start to rely more on each other.
Becoming more self-aware also involves recognizing different work styles. For example, some people love to work hard all the time while others prefer to procrastinate. These two work styles will never work well together, especially if the people who have these styles lack self-awareness.
By acknowledging the differences, working together can be much easier.
Choosing the Right Roles for Team Members
Continuing on the previous topic of work styles and how they can affect team cohesion, it’s also very important to understand that not everyone in a team can play any kind of role. This is not necessarily a bad thing. As a matter of fact, by understanding what roles might best fit different workers, one is likely to have a much easier time creating a successful team.
For example, not everyone likes to be the leader of a team and not everyone has the skills to be the leader. If one puts an employee who lacks leadership skills in charge of a team, the team is most likely going to crumble fast. Even if a person does have some leadership skills, he or she might not enjoy a leadership role and in this case, the team will still suffer.
A team is most likely to succeed when every member is in a role that they enjoy and are good at. Giving everyone a designated role is also important for attributing responsibility. While unity is very important, unity doesn’t mean that everyone has to act the same and do all the same things.
By giving everyone specific roles in the team, they all become part of a well-oiled machine. For example, one person might be responsible for writing up reports while another person might be responsible for analyzing and collecting statistics, and so on. A big benefit of having clear roles is that roles give people purpose and they decrease confusion throughout the group.
Clear roles can also make the team more efficient since no one will be stumbling around wondering what they need to do. So, when putting together a team, be sure to consider everyone’s strengths and weaknesses before assigning any roles.
Activities to Improve Team Cohesion
As seen so far, self-awareness and roles are both very important when it comes to creating a cohesive team. However, what can a person do to take these aspects into perspective for a team? How can a person get everyone in the team to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses as well as how to better work together as a team?
More often than not, someone will need to call everyone into a meeting and have a long talk about these subjects to ensure that everyone is on the same page. However, the problem with a meeting like this is that some team members might find it boring or unnecessary and therefore won’t pay much attention. If this turns out to be the case, the team members won’t be better off than they were before the meeting.
So, what can one do to make sure the team members understand the importance of team cohesion? Using certain activities or actions tends to be a great solution. For example, coming up with fictional scenarios or problems for team members can be a fun and useful exercise for improving a team’s dynamic.
These scenarios won’t put much stress on the team members and they will allow them to really think through various problems and solutions. It will also allow them to better consider their roles in the team and how they can interact with other people in the team who might have other roles. Through various team-building exercises and activities, everyone in the team can start to understand each other better.
Fictional scenarios can also prepare team members for similar but more stressful scenarios that they might face in real life. The final result (which might take some time to achieve) is a team that understands itself and works together without any problems.
Build Trust within the Team
Among the many activities to try for a team, building trust is one of the most important, and it’s easy to understand why. However, building trust within a team tends to be much more difficult than it sounds. Even though it can be difficult to build trust, it should not be ignored since trust is a big part of what makes teams successful.
One of the first ways people can start building trust in a team is by making it clear that team members shouldn’t be afraid to speak their minds and voice their opinions. If team members don’t feel heard and appreciated, they might not feel like there’s any point in voicing what they have to say and there would be no reason for them to place trust in other team members. This goes beyond talking about the goal of the project.
If a team member has a unique idea for approaching or completing the goal, he or she shouldn’t be hesitated to elaborate upon it. For this to happen, the management level should also be more trustworthy with its workers. After all, if team members feel like the management is secretive and isolated, they might not feel like there is much of a reason to be trustworthy among themselves.
This is the beginning of a terrible problem having to do with a lack of communication. If a team member feels that other members of the management are secretive, he or she might decide to be more secretive as well. A good way to prevent this problem is by talking openly about different ideas and aspects of the project a team is working on.
By demonstrating that open communication is a good thing and even preferred, team members will also be more likely to communicate openly.
Provide Development and Training
No matter how hard a person tries to promote communication, trust, and unity within a team, in some cases, it can seem next to impossible to accomplish. However, nothing is impossible, especially if people go the extra mile and provide development and training opportunities for team members.
Some might think that developing and training is unnecessary, but they might be surprised at how might these two aspects can help to promote team cohesion and make team members more self-aware. Training is also very important for making team members better workers in general.
For example, some workers already have certain skills that they are good at and not good at. When working as normal, these workers will tend to focus on work that will help them improve upon skills that they are already good at. On the other hand, the skills that they aren’t so good at they tend to ignore, and these skills will only get worse over time as a result.
This won’t happen if people provide training opportunities for their team members. Training allows team members to identify their roles and their skills, and training also provides team members with the materials to better themselves. This is ideal because it will allow team members to improve upon skills that they might be lacking in and it can help them further refine their skillset overall.
Training is not only beneficial for a worker’s job performance, but for a worker’s self-esteem as well. If a worker feels that they aren’t very good at their job, they might not try as hard. On the other hand, if a worker feels that they are getting better with certain skills that they used to lack, they may feel more confident and produce better results at work as well.
Don’t Ignore the Little Victories
Humans in general are driven by rewards. If workers feel that they are working hard for nothing, they will stop working hard and start working only as little as they can. This is because they will feel that there is no point in working hard since they will only be rewarded the same as when they work very little.
When it comes to working as a team, this can be a recipe for disaster. If all of one’s team members feel that there is no point in working hard, the team’s production will suffer. To fix this and to motivate workers, one might need to provide small incentives or celebrate a team’s small successes.
By acknowledging a team’s successful work, people can make the team members feel more appreciated and valued. Acknowledging their work makes them feel like they are working for a purpose and aren’t being ignored after all their effort. Simply thanking team members can go a long way.
This way, everyone in the team feels appreciated and feels that they did a good job. More than that, team members will be more likely to share their small victories together. The overall result is increased work satisfaction, which of course, is highly beneficial.
If workers aren’t satisfied with their job, they can easily become apathetic. On the other hand, if people compliment workers on their work every once in a while, they will be more satisfied with their work and they will be motivated to work harder. This is because they will want to improve upon their past work because they know they will be rewarded.
So, even with a busy schedule, don’t forget to appreciate the hard work that the team members are putting in.
Improve Employee Engagement
Employee engagement tends to go hand-in-hand with job satisfaction and work recognition. Employee engagement is how involved employees are with their work. All employees are required to have a certain level of engagement otherwise they might be fired.
However, there is a big difference between a worker that does as little work a possible compared to a worker that always goes above and beyond for the company. Of course, if all companies and teams were filled with workers who always went above and beyond, work production would always be in great shape. But this is not the case in real life and someone will need to figure out what to do with people who radiate high levels of employee disengagement.
Employee disengagement can happen for many reasons and it’s not good for anyone in the workplace, especially within a team. If there are one or two people in a team that refuse to do much work, the rest of the team will quickly become irritated and other members might not be sure what to do with the members that barely want to work. The way to fix this is by understanding why employee disengagement happens in the first place.
As mentioned before, if team members don’t feel very valued in the company, they most likely won’t be very motivated to work hard because they don’t see the point. However, there are other reasons for employee disengagement that go beyond a lack of recognition. Another common reason is a lack of growth opportunities.
Even if some recognize the work of some team members, they still might not see the point of working hard if they are going to stay stuck in their positions forever. Boredom is also another contributing factor, so try not to ignore these issues.
Structure The Team’s Goals
The point of a team is to work toward a common goal, but if a team hardly knows what that goal is, it can be very hard to achieve it. After all, if a team only has a vague outline of a goal, many team members might be confused, and when team members get confused, they may be embarrassed to ask for clarification or they work very slowly. This problem can be fixed by clearly structuring the team’s goals.
Instead of having a quickly thrown-together outline, having a goal pyramid is a much better idea. One of the many benefits of a goal pyramid is that people can divide it in different ways if they want to highlight goals for the company, goals for the team, and even individual goals. People could also have many small goals or goals that slowly increase in size rather than having one large and difficult goal.
The benefit of this is that when goals are more manageable, they’ll never be as daunting as one big goal. More than that, smaller goals are better able to give team members the feeling of progress because they are better able to look back on their work. Every time a team completes a goal, they will feel one step closer to the final product and ultimately more motivated.
On the other hand, team members might struggle when working towards a goal that will only happen in the very distant future and that will take a lot of hard work to complete. Working in this manner does not promote motivation among workers. Instead, the workers might easily become exhausted and might feel that since the goal is far away, there’s no use in working hard on the project since the reward won’t be for a long time.
Using the Goal Pyramid to Work Together as a Team
The goal pyramid is not only useful for breaking apart a big goal into smaller and more manageable goals, but it is also important for highlighting the roles of different members of a team. As mentioned before, people can break the goal pyramid into different parts such as company goals and individual goals. More than that, because of the pyramid’s shape, one can create a hierarchy that visualizes the importance of certain goals over others.
The traditional structure of a goal pyramid usually involves smaller goals, resources, and responsibilities at the very bottom of the pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid is the team’s foundation. It also encompasses the material the team has at its disposal.
By utilizing the materials and completing the tasks at the bottom of the goal pyramid, the team can slowly make its way up the rest of the pyramid. The higher the team progresses up the pyramid, the more goals the team members will complete. Having a diagram of the team’s goal pyramid can also be very motivating since the team members will be able to check off completed goals and look ahead to see what goals they need to face next.
The top of the pyramid is reserved for the largest and most important goals. The team members won’t be able to complete the final goal without first completing the many smaller goals before it. The final goal is usually something that changes the company in a significant way.
By the time the team members reach the last goal on the goal pyramid, they will undoubtedly feel relieved and satisfied with their work. It is very important to acknowledge the team’s hard work after completing such a goal since the team member’s satisfaction could quickly turn into disengagement if they don’t feel appreciated.
Better Define the Company and Team Values
When a company cares only about its own success, it shows. On the other hand, if there is a mismatch between worker and company values, problems tend to arise. To fix this, one will need to identify the values of the team and the company.
To start, superiors will need to identify what workers find important. Do the workers want to move up the ladder? Do they want more recognition?
Do workers want to make a difference in the company? Whatever the case, once one starts identifying different values among workers, progression is inevitable. Once one understands the values of workers, one can examine how they correlate with the company’s values.
A company should never care only about itself. A company like this will never last long because it will have no internal support. On the other hand, if the company’s values align with the values of the workers, the workspace will blossom along with the company.
It’s also important to align team and company values with other goals. If there is no alignment, then it will feel like there is not much point in working toward a goal. People should also make sure that team members understand team and company values.
Understanding is the basis of a good relationship between a company and its workers. Understanding is also important for reducing arguments and confusion. By understanding the values of team members, they can do better to motivate them.
When team members are motivated and satisfied, they will do better to reach goals. So, if team members are struggling, be sure to take into account their goals. No doubt, there will be a big improvement among the workers after this.
Empower The Team Members
If team members feel like they aren’t capable of much, they won’t do much. If any team members have low self-esteem at work, it needs to be fixed fast. When workers don’t feel proud of their work performance, they won’t contribute much to a team.
Some workers might not feel very capable because they don’t have many responsibilities. After all, if other workers are doing all the important work, a team member with few responsibilities may feel inferior. A worker may also feel inferior if their ideas aren’t heard or taken seriously.
To fix this, ensure that all team members feel empowered. But where should it all start, some might ask? Try giving the team members more authority and responsibility.
This will ensure that the team members feel like they have a purpose. It will also give them more motivation to engage in projects and complete goals. Beyond providing them with responsibility, don’t forget to acknowledge their work as well.
Also, be sure to spread the responsibility evenly throughout the team. It wouldn’t be fair to have some members have large responsibilities while others have small and few responsibilities. Workers with smaller responsibilities may feel that there’s not much of a point in working hard if their work isn’t as valued as the work of others.
To solve this, try to break up different responsibilities. No task should be drastically larger or more important than another for team members. The exception could be for the leader of the group.
Even so, the leader’s responsibilities shouldn’t overshadow the tasks of the other members. If this is the case, there won’t be a very good team dynamic. This is because everyone will want to rely on the leader.
Understanding the Cause of Team Conflict
Conflict is inevitable in and out of the workplace. Whenever many people come together, opinions and values will clash and create arguments. Conflict can be detrimental to a team since it can ruin team productivity.
If members start to dislike each other, they won’t want to work together. This is never good for any team.
So, what causes team conflict in the first place? What can one do to prevent it? More than that, what can one do to solve it once it occurs?
Fortunately, there are many things people can try to prevent and solve team conflict. First, they’ll need to understand why team conflict happens in the first place. After all, if they try to solve conflict without knowing why it’s happening, they’ll have a hard time.
Understanding that every person is unique is very important. When creating a team, they shouldn’t expect everyone to work and act the same. Everyone will have different ways of meeting goals and performing tasks.
Priorities and values will also be very different from person to person. By understanding these differences, they’ll be on the right path to improving team cohesion. They should also know that differences aren’t always bad and they shouldn’t try to eliminate them.
Differences are what make results diverse and unique. But they need to figure out how to align differences in a way that they don’t clash. The first step is by allowing team members to acknowledge their differences.
Everyone should also try to understand that just because one opinion is different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Once everyone understands their differences, team members can start to work together to resolve their conflicts. But where does the resolution start exactly?
How to Manage Team Conflict
After people understand the problem, they need to create steps on how to solve it. Much like the goal pyramid, having a visual aid is always helpful for overcoming conflicts. A good way to understand a conflict is to draw out the problems.
Once they do that, they should try to create various steps that can solve the conflict. This may be difficult, especially if team members have very different opinions, but it’s not impossible. Even if the team is currently not conflicting, some should create a blueprint or flowchart to prevent or solve conflicts.
For example, if a team encounters a problem, the team members will be able to consult with the chart. By following the variations in the chart, team members will be able to solve any issues and avoid conflicts. This will save team members a lot of time and energy that they would have otherwise spent arguing.
Whatever visual aid is necessary, it should take the team’s values and priorities into account. Of course, if a visual aid doesn’t reflect a team very well, it won’t work. Once a team gets used to the visual aid for conflicts, there should be far fewer conflicts in the future.
This is because the team members will be able to sort out their problems together. They will also be able to better respect other’s opinions even if they are different.
Everything to Know about Team Cohesion
By the end of this article, the concept of team cohesion should be very clear. Team cohesion can be difficult to obtain, but it is very important for a successful team. By ensuring that team members are self-aware and engaged, a very efficient team will be possible.
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