Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

6 Steps To Strengthen Team Cohesion

Learn about 6 steps leaders can take to strengthen team cohesion to boost employee productivity and drive organizational growth.

If there’s one point all of us can agree on today, it’s that we’re living in increasingly divisive times.

As a writer, I can certainly appreciate the irony of this statement. But as a leadership expert, it also highlights a critical function leaders need to play both to drive organizational growth, as well as to boost employee productivity.

While those efforts to divide us as opposed to discovering those commonalities that bind us together might seem to be more an issue within the political and social issues realm, organizations are clearly feeling the effects of these forces within their workforce.

And this is something leaders need to be mindful of if they are to continue to foster conditions necessary for ensuring people can work together effectively towards the achievement of a common goal.

As such, here are six steps that will help you strengthen team cohesion, regardless of what storms might be looming outside your organization’s walls.

1. Draw clear lines between what your team does and the shared purpose of your organization
One of the best ways to strengthen team cohesion is helping your employees to view their efforts within the context of the larger vision of the organization. After all, it’s easy to care about our contributions, but what about the contributions their fellow team mates make? Of course, when people don’t carry their load or if they make a mistake that impacts the whole team, it’s easy to care (or more likely get upset).

But team cohesion is about getting everyone on the team to consider the whole along with the individual parts. In other words, when you communicate and lead your team using your shared purpose as your compass, everyone wins [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

2. Ensure employees get real-time feedback to help assess their performance
There’s a common consensus amongst the various studies on employee engagement that leaders need to be giving more feedback to their employees. But another thing leaders should be doing to strengthen team cohesion is promoting conditions that encourage employees to give each other feedback in real-time, and not just as part of some 360 annual review.

Getting real-time feedback from your peers fosters greater clarity about how various team members are perceived to improve contributions and involvement. Ensuring your team members get feedback from their colleagues will also reduce top-down management and foster a more collaborative spirit as team members are willing to help each other improve.

3. Honour the journey that got your team to where they are
In our zeal to become more agile and innovative, it’s tempting to reboot what we do or how we approach certain tasks in the hopes of discovering new opportunities for growth. But in terms of team cohesion, it’s important that we not lose sight of what got us to where we are today.

In other words, it’s not what we seek that defines us, but what we do with what we have to make things better [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

So don’t try and wipe slate clean, but use past experiences to inform and guide future decisions. Demonstrate that past failures are not seen as signs of weakness, but as opportunities to learn about potential oversights or hidden gaps in your collective understanding.

4. Delegate decision-making connected to employee’s work to build trust
As a leader, delegation is one of the most powerful tools we have in our leadership toolkit, not just in terms of fuelling momentum towards achieving our vision, but also in terms of building trust with those we lead.

Of course, what makes delegation so effective depends on what we choose to delegate to various members of our team. Rather than passing out work that no one wants to do, delegate decision-making on those issues that directly impact your team members. Show them you trust their understanding of the situations they face, but be sure they know you have their backs regardless of the outcomes from choices they make.

Doing so will not only help stretch their competencies – and take some of the load off your plate – but it will foster greater trust between you and those you lead.

5. Ensure conflicts focus on the issue, not on the individual parties
Probably one of the most noticeable outcomes of the growing division we’re seeing in certain countries is how when disagreements arise, things quickly devolve into uttering personal attacks directly at one another.

Obviously, we’ve all seen how counter-productive and damaging this can be, which is why we need to make sure that people don’t turn conflicts on certain issues into personal attacks.

That’s why we need to be respectful to those who challenge our viewpoints, as we do with those who share them [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

Remind team members that welcoming both support and opposition to proposed plans and ideas is necessary to ensure that the best approach to achieving your shared goals is employed.

6. Strengthen lines of communication between team members and upper management
Don’t treat information as something that’s privy to a select few, but make it accessible to everyone as your goal is not simply managing who does what, but to ensure that everyone brings their best to the table so that together, we can succeed and grow, both collectively and individually.

The resources you provide to your team to help them succeed in their efforts shouldn’t be limited to what you personally can offer, but should extend to what they can obtain from others in your organization to help them achieve their goals.

After all, when we focus on helping others, we move one step closer to that better version of who we can be [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

It truly is unfortunate to see this growing tide of divisive forces, ones where the focus is more on trying to prove how different we are from one another, as opposed to the hopes, dreams, and aspirations we share in common and how we can collectively succeed by joining forces to make those ideas a reality.

But the opportunity remains for each of us to use our leadership to demonstrate that we don’t need to ignore our differences to be able to successfully work together. Rather, we need to embrace them as yet another means for us to collectively achieve what we all long to attain.

That’s why it’s helpful to note that optimism is not the absence of negativity, but the ability to rise above despite it [Twitter logoShare on Twitter].

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