Team building, cohesion retention; these are dominant topics in any gathering of all kinds of leaders around the globe. Finding the best people, getting them to work together and keeping them together afterward has never been more important to the work of leading organizations, whether they are political, academic, business, entertainment, philanthropic or athletic.
It appears that as the pool of talented people from which organizations can draw gets larger, the work of getting them to work together for any meaningful period of time gets harder. This is even as globalization and the shrinking of many corporations’ playing fields make the optimum utilization of human resources a matter of survival, rather than merely increasing profits.
How can leadership find, bond and retain the best teams?

How to Build a Great Team

What is the most critical period in the life of a team? The time before the team is actually built. Mistakes made from the outset; when we begin our pursuit of talented individuals to populate our team, sow the seeds for the team’s eventual demise down the road. The first and most important factor to consider when starting out to build a team is cohesion. The goal is to work together and being able to do that should be the number one prerequisite for anyone who will join the team.
The problem lies in the prevailing attitude of individualism that dominates our culture. We don’t recognize teams, we celebrate individuals. But overtly talented persons can have a disruptive influence on team dynamics because they want to retain credit for themselves and alienate others in order to do this. A team of good persons who stay together is better than a group of phenomenal individuals who cannot stand together for long. There is no sense in building a nest, only to tear it down.
So the number one rule for team cohesion is to avoid building with highly turbulent individuals. A person’s ability to work well with others can be gauged in a variety of ways. And this should be one of the main priorities during the team selection process. Unless the project for which the team is being assembled is short term. In which case, it won’t matter too much if the team doesn’t stay together.

Tools and Tips for Team Cohesion

Now you have got your team together, how do you make them work together? Every team begins as a jumble of different individuals with diverse interests, ideas, and attitudes. The first rule when joining a team is to position our self within this team. That is natural, humans are social creatures, and our first instinct amongst a strange group is to establish our place as high as possible in the hierarchy.
How the first few contacts between team members are managed will be critical to the long-term effectiveness of the team. Problems that are allowed to sprout in this beginning period will ingrain themselves into the team’s culture and become difficult to root out later. At this juncture, the most important factor is the person responsible for bonding the team and that person’s actions.
The following are principles to bear in mind as you try to create or improve cohesion within your team.
– Give People A Unique Mission: People need something above the routine of daily existence to put a bounce in their steps. Having a meaningful purpose gives a team something to feel special about. Being members of an elite and exclusive team creates a group mentality that fosters success.
– People Need Leadership: Everyone can be a leader, but not everyone is the leader in any particular situation. Establishing hierarchy and clear lines of reporting will help to eliminate power struggles and handle intergroup conflicts.
– Make The Rules and Keep Them: Trust and openness keep a group together. treat everyone with the same level of consideration, the potential for resentment will be greatly reduced.
– Let Your People Shine: Every member of your team is exceptional, that is why they are there in the first place. Giving each person the chance to shine in their area of unique knowledge, ability, and skill. When people realize they can all shine, they become more supportive of one another.
– People Want Fairness Above Equality: Some team members will require a lot more resources and access to leadership than others. If team members see that preferential treatments are based on transparent parameters, they will not become dissatisfied.
– Happy Hour Is Work: Create opportunities for your team members to spend time together and build connections beyond the requirements of the team mission. It is even more effective if such activities take place on company time.
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