How to increase team cohesion

Actions to increase team cohesion.

So, you now know that self-awareness and a unified goal will help us achieve team cohesion. What’s next? There are a few actions you can take—some deliberate and others in the form of a change in mindset.

Whether you’re building a new team or just adding a new member, you should always start with the same priority: the team dynamic. Before the team can focus on the work, they need to work on themselves. Call a mandatory meeting to build that awareness among the team members. Whether you’re using specific behavioral tools or not, make sure there is a better understanding of the role each member will play, and their preferences with regards to the work. 

Don’t be afraid to have fun with this, or use silly ideas. For instance, you can ask your team what fictional character would be the best teammate to work with. The question at face value seems light-hearted, but the minute you ask them to explain why they chose that character, you’re starting to uncover useful details about what each person expects from others.

If you are using behavioral tools to help with this process, consider The Predictive Index’s Team Discovery tool. Using this tool, you can plot your employees’ behavioral results onto a visual map. From there, select from a list of team objectives you are currently pursuing. The tool will show you where there’s natural alignment between the team and these objectives—and where there are gaps. This allows you to brainstorm how the team can stretch to meet the needs of these objectives based on their behavioral preferences.

Matt Poepsel - Team Discovery Tour

Today we are also facing many new challenges because a large portion of the workforce is remote, and will be indefinitely. Having to trust one another to get the job done when you’re not all in the same location can be frightening at first, but there is no need to panic. There are a number of activities you can utilize to help build team cohesion, even in a remote setting. Below are a few examples:

To help them regain some needed face time, encourage your employees to schedule virtual coffee breaks. By encouraging these meetups, you give your employees the opportunity to connect with those in roles outside their immediate team. You also give them an outlet to share pain points and swap best practices when it comes to remote work. These pairs may even find they face similar issues—and work together to solve them.

A workplace book club is a wonderful team-building activity, remote environment or not. Not only is it a fun social event; it also provides educational value you can use to upskill your employees. Best of all, it’s low-cost and relatively easy to organize.

Teammates are no longer working next to or across from one another. They’re no longer passing each other in the hallway or leaving work at the same time. So in a fully remote setting, it’s tough to maintain the same water-cooler conversations you’d have in an office space. If your employees have certain shared interests, encourage them to start/join a relevant messaging channel using tools like Slack or Teams. These channels can range in function from sharing cooking recipes or music playlists to leading coding bootcamps. Each of these channels serves as its own little community—providing new ways for your employees to engage with the organization. They don’t have to be limited to hobbies, either; they can also focus on important lifestyle matters.

Finally, once you’ve taken those actions, it’s also important to instill a mindset of awareness throughout your team. A clear goal and an understanding of the team’s behavioral preferences are essential, but when it comes to the actual work, there are always going to be events that impact the team and cause concerns for that cohesiveness. 

Individuals on your team should be coached on empathy and  behavioral preferences before taking action. For example, those with a high level of formality—the drive to conform to rules and structure—might have a hard time agreeing to abrupt changes in objectives or team plans. Those with lower levels of that drive should be aware and more mindful when requesting changes like this. A more thorough explanation of why this change is necessary can benefit these members—and the team—in the long run. 

Taking this mindful approach to interactions at work, being self-aware, and having a clear objective will project you on the right track for a cohesive team.

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