11th January 2024 David Webster

How Can Developing A Cohesive Team Improve Productivity?

A cohesive team displays their proficiency in team development methods, showcasing a strong capacity for meeting deadlines and nurturing a sense of unity and cooperation.

Team cohesion is a commonly cited characteristic of effective teams. It is commonly cited because there is some instinctive truth about the idea that teams who like working together will do well and create a productive environment in which to deliver.

Feeling Good

A cohesive team in this context can be defined as what psychologists would call ‘consistent positive affect’ – that is to say, the team members are attracted to working with each other and enjoy each other’s company. This then has a knock-on effect in the degree to which they support each other, develop a trustworthy relationship, and therefore work effectively together in a coordinated and purposeful fashion.

Sustaining Performance And Feeling Bad?

In this way it is easy to see how a healthy degree of positive experience within the team is helpful. Imagine the opposite. Team members do not feel positive about being in the team or positive about their colleagues – or even sufficiently positive about each other to continue putting in discretionary effort such that the team can perform well over time. This situation can be sustained for only a short amount of time before team members effort declines and team productivity declines with it.

It’s More Than Feeling Good

The assumption that this series of events and indeed the whole idea of a cohesive team is a central feature or prerequisite of a productive team is not however entirely true. To always feel good about your colleagues seems a big ask, especially when the pressure is on. However, what is important is that team members develop a productive mindset and robust and flexible relationships that are oriented towards great team productivity. This could be described as team cohesion though it is much more than just feeling good about each other. It is also a central and a commonly held feeling that high performance is valued, that team members know they can rely on each other, even when the pressure is on.

Two Critical Components: Task And Relationships

In any team there are always two elements that go to make up their activity together – the task or tasks that they need to complete and the relationships that they have together that would enable them to complete those tasks and ensure the required performance for stakeholders.

If the scale of the task that the team is charged with are at scale or are complex and require a high degree of interdependence and coordination in their execution, then it is certainly critical that their relationships are strong in order that a sufficient degree of challenge and support can ensue.

However, developing team cohesion which is simply (don’t forget) a high degree of good feeling between team members by itself is not the critical idea. 

Are Your Relationships Up To The Task?

What is critical is that the team can develop relationships that are up to the task. To be able to do this team needs to develop:

  • An understanding of each other’s roles and how they personally execute those roles given their personalities, experience, and ways of working.
  • The priorities that each team member has, and how those priorities fit into the wider task set of the team.
  • A sufficient degree of trust so that tasks can be independently executed in service of the team’s success.
  • A sufficient degree of psychological safety so that team members can speak openly about challenges and opportunities without fear of ridicule or undue consequence.
  • Sound team member (or ‘teamship’) skills such as the ability to listen, ask good questions, challenge each other’s thinking and their assumptions, and support each other to excel.
  • Agreement as to the expectations of each other as to how they will work together – this provides a protocol, a shorthand for the team culture which is invaluable for feedback and provides rules of the game.
  • The habit of using the team’s self-awareness to learn and improve – and we call this a team learning rhythm.

Call Us About Your Team

The Centre for Teams supports senior leadership teams and executive teams to deliver sustainable performance. A key part of our work is developing in those teams, the scale of relationships that are up to the tasks that they have in front of them, so they can start to thrive. If you’re interested in having a more in depth conversation about the ways we can help with creating a cohesive team for your organisation then give Centre for Teams a call today.

Image Source: Canva


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