THE BLOG

Team Cohesion: Are You Succeeding or Failing?

02/11/2015 04:37 pm ET | Updated Apr 12, 2015

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Pretty blunt question, isn't it?

The reason this title is so foremost in my mind is that it has come up as an issue in recent conversations with a couple of leaders of teams, and some people who are not the leaders, but members of teams.

You see, if you are a leader and you are not scoring high on team cohesion, then, truthfully, you are failing - harsh, but true!

If you are a member of a team and team cohesion is poor, then you are also failing - again, harsh, but true!

You see as a member of a team you have responsibility for the team effectiveness - not just the leader. If the leader isn't stepping up, then you must!

So, you might ask, how do I know if my team is cohesive or not? The truth is, you know in your gut and don't need me to spell it out for you!

But if you are looking for examples, then look at the behaviours of your top team - is there open and honest communication, are they good at holding each other accountable, are they all singing off the same hymn sheet and is there healthy debate about the real issues?

Another way of looking at it - are your staff working in a healthy environment, do the departments operate in a synchronistic manner or are they operating in silos? If they are not operating as you would like, then they reflect what is happening with the top team! Again, harsh but true!

So, what can you do? Well, if these questions are hitting a nerve , then you and I should be talking! I am serious about that! So, do get in touch.

However, looking at this issue there are 3 steps to take:

  1. Check that your management structure is the right one to take the business forward. If you have not got the right structure, then you are applying the right medicine to the wrong wound! Truthfully, there is little point in attempting to build team cohesion with the wrongly made up team. I have seen many CEOs prevaricate on this, and it always slows them down, and then frustrates them when they are not getting the results they expect.
  2. Invest time and effort to revisit your mission, vision, and values. If your team is lacking cohesion it is clear that they, and possibly you, have lost sight of these critical elements. You need to bind this team together to ensure they can cascade these messages down throughout the business. Do take the time - this is not a quick, one off exercise. Spend time with your team so that they can clearly understand the "spirit" behind the words. This is not an exercise in semantics - this is hearts and minds stuff. Failure to engage them emotionally guarantees a stagnated business.
  3. Break down the silos. Silos happen - they are an inevitable part of growth, but allowing them to become institutionalised is a failure of management. Tolerating silos is akin to attempting to swim in quicksand. As leaders of the business we are responsible for the evolution of silos - we have failed in getting everyone to have shared vision. Most silos happen due to poor communication from the leadership team. Some silos are fostered malevolently - where this occurs, you need to remove those who engage with this sort of activity. They are a cancer to any business. You will remove the biggest threat of silos through strong communication about vision, mission and values, along with sharing progress on the business performance.

Team cohesion is critical to the future success of any business, and is achieved through the efforts of the top team.

So, on a scale of 1 - 10, with one being poor and ten excellent, how do you rate your team?

By the way, I was interviewed recently about how to develop a high performance team, and I am happy to send a CD of this interview if you are interested. Just send me your address and I will post it to you immediately.