Teaming Up – Group Cohesion & Tightening Bonds

The success of a workplace or organization is largely dependent on its teams; how they work together is critical. We want to take our team to the next level and then the next, and beyond; the possibilities are limitless! Naturally, groups work so much better when there is cohesion, which isn’t just about unity or interconnectedness, it’s about positive group dynamics, causing each team member to become – and stay – motivated. Highly cohesive teams are good for the workplace; there is less stress, reduced turnover, and increased job satisfaction, not to mention projects that are completed successfully! As we wind down our series on teamwork, let’s break down the basics of group cohesion and explore its benefits so you can have a highly performing, innovative team.

We’re all in this together  

Unity is key. Having similar attitudes, goals and values are important, but so too is having team members who are open-minded and eager to welcome new members, ideas and philosophies.

The size of a group is important too – a group that’s too big or that works remotely for example, won’t develop the same level of cohesion as a smaller, in-person group. When groups are large, they can become unwieldy and the chance of mini-groups or cliques forming will increase, thus detracting from the unity. However, large groups usually have the advantage of more diversity and a wider spectrum of unique and innovated ideas to choose from.

If managed effectively and within the right environments, dynamics between groups can promote inter-group competition, which often enhances motivation if kept at a moderate level, but can also break down the harmony and lead to an unproductive or unhappy environment if the competitions get out of hand.

Forming strong team bonds

There are several factors that can increase group work & cohesiveness:

  • Having a sense of pride in the work itself and the group.
  • Bonds don’t only form when there’s a pleasant or supportive environment. In fact, bonds can form faster and stronger when there’s a crisis, danger or threat – it’s part of our human evolution. In hostile environments, the ones who survived formed groups and worked together. When we are forced to plough through adversity, we are better at putting aside our differences and focus on doing our part. If you think back on a crisis or difficult time you went through, you can usually think of strong ties that were formed during that time.
  • Empowerment and autonomy – if a group is micro-managed and not allowed creativity or expression, then it’s harder to forge strong commitments and collaboration.
  • Trust & respect – when we can share our worries, mistakes and shortcomings with others without negative judgements, we’re inclined to bond more closely.

Onward & upward

A highly cohesive and functional team leads to increased morale, as each individual feels respected and competent. This results in enhanced performance, which naturally improves the success of the project and the organization as a whole. It’s a domino effect! Here are a few ways to keep on top of your team’s progress and help foster a more cohesive environment:

  • Allow time for bonding – don’t force unrealistic deadlines or unclear goals on your group.
  • Acknowledge the skills and contributions of others throughout the process to build confidence and morale.
  • Celebrate successes both small and large.
  • Be on the lookout and manage conflict or negative energy. Allow for safe and friendly venting opportunities and fun ways to relieve tensions.
  • Make sure the higher-ups are on-board; it’s more meaningful to be part of a team that’s valued and supported by various levels of the organization.

Negative repercussions of group cohesion

While it would appear that a high level of group cohesions is always beneficial, there are times when it can become extreme and hinder the success of the team, project or organization as a whole. For example, if others feel left out of a tight-knit group, that alienation can lead to conflict or withdrawal. Also, if the group becomes too sociable, they may lose momentum or become less committed to the task at hand in their pursuit of camaraderie. Further, group cohesiveness that’s too extreme can lead to critical judgements or undue competition with others outside of the group. This type of intense allegiance can be seen in many facets of life, from cults, to sports fandom, to political affiliations and more.

A good team is the building block to success, which is why it’s important to learn all we can about how they form, function and perform best.

What’s been a team experience that you’ve learned from or particularly enjoyed? Share in the comments below and let’s all team UP.

“Teamwork is the secret that makes common people achieve uncommon results.” – Ifeanyi Onuoha