Whether we look at a successful group of corporates, or a sports team, what is the common thread among them? We’d have to say that it would be the cohesion they work with. When a team works together in sync to reach a goal, the journey becomes all much easier! We often see difference of opinion at the workplace. Someone might not bode well with your ideas sometimes. But should this deter you from working as a single unit with your colleagues? The answer is a simple no! When an idea is rejected, understand that it was probably for the greater good if a majority of people thought it wasn’t practical. Being assertive and understanding about disagreements is what keeps teams together.

Cohesion is a term that we often use in chemistry to talk about attractive forces between molecules. It is also commonly used to describe group dynamics. In a group, cohesion is when a team stays united while working towards a goal. A cohesive team always ideates and brainstorms as a collective, and then manifests its vision as a unit. Each and every member feels like they have made a contribution to the end result. Rather than focusing on the ‘individual self’ a member of a cohesive group looks at the scenario from the group’s perspective. In simpler words, the decisions they make are based on collective opinions rather than individual ones.

Working as a unit creates a symbiotic relationship between co-workers. They begin to depend and rely on one another for their unique skills. If every member does their bit, the end result fits together like a perfectly cut puzzle. In a cohesive environment, employees are more likely to be motivated to conquer their objectives. A lack of cohesion may lead to unnecessary conflict and a disorganized style of working. If employees can’t get along or collectively brainstorm, the resulting ideas maybe disjointed and haphazard! Cohesion is thus, the binding force that keeps an organization well-oiled and running.

According to the research of Bruce Tuckman, there are four stages in group development. These provide a good gauge of whether a team is cohesive or not. The four stages are Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Through each of these stages, the cohesiveness of a group is reaches a fever peak till they manifest their goal as a unit!

  • Forming: This is the stage where team members get to know one another. When we’re new to an environment, we probably socially assess those around us pretty often. Once we’ve understood the people around us, we begin to get more comfortable working with them. New employees need time to adjust to their environment and figure out how to best work with their team of colleagues! Team leaders prove effective here, by conducting team-building activities and brainstorming sessions. Leaders also need to establish individual goals and overall objectives in order to get the gears moving!

 

  • Storming: This stage is often characterized by conflict. When we’re ironing our out roles and responsibilities, we often tend to look at the smaller picture. Most people refuse to work as a team and focus merely on their own ball-game at work in this stage. This is when the team must try and brainstorm as a collective, and learn that communication is the key towards reaching a goal. After establishing roles and rule structures, the team must figure out how to combine their efforts in a synchronized way.

 

  • Norming: This stage is characterized by a resolution of conflict. The members of the team being to realize that seamless communication is the answer. At the same time, each and every individual needs to be given space to carry out their own functions in peace. This is when the gears of the machine start to move at full-force, leading to a we’ll-established chain of operation. Regular meetings to discuss objectives and progress, and team-building and social activities provide the necessary fuel during this period.

 

  • Performing: This is when the manifestation of goals occurs. Team members begin to realize that working together is the only answer! They now have a full overview of why their interdependence is so important! Each member feels they are valued and that their roles all have an equal importance. At this stage, a leader must step back a bit and let his or her team do their thing! A controlling attitude may lead to a regression to previous stages. It’s also extremely important to celebrate one’s victories with a little leisure, as a team!

It’s pretty clear that team cohesion leads to higher rates of success at the workplace. A study published in the Journal of Sports Science Medicine further proves this. From a sample of 2 Spanish football and 2 basketball teams, there was a strong correlation between cohesion and positive social interaction and goal achievement. Whether in the realm of sports or at work, cohesion is therefore, pretty important.

Working as a unit and assertively solving conflict could be the key to smooth proceedings at work. Why not read our piece on assertiveness to have a better overview?

An undergraduate in Psychology, Shantanu is an aspiring Educational Psychologist who will be pursuing his Master’s in 2018 at the Ohio State University. He is adept with psychometric and statistical research, and has honed his grasp over psychology through a 4 year undergraduate course in Liberal Education at FLAME University, Pune.