I am often asked how to build team cohesion quickly. My answer is always to recommend the leader to start by fixing trust among the team members. People can work for years together but fail to know each other well. We usually refer to these kinds of people as “familiar strangers.” Familiar strangers at the work plan cannot build winning teams and create the momentum to transform any business.
Such people suffer from mood swings. Today one of the team members could be upbeat and energetic, the following day they are like a snake. Wasting a lot of time on useless things and rumors. Before you know it, the team is experiencing some sort of mutiny – only that it is silent and more deadly like cancer.
Of course, some team members are so private that they will not let you in their private life. That is a sign of a lack of trust. When someone trusts you, they will invite you to know them better. The starting point is inviting you to visit their homes. To know their relatives and friends and of course the people they live with.
In any team, the easiest way to create team cohesion is to help people discover themselves. Who are they? What are the common areas of interest? What are their worries? What are their interests, specifically personal interests, and what has their career been like?
The leader must create an environment for this to happen. You can easily assess the extent of team dysfunction depending on their ability to want to remain closed off or private. No one trusts a person they do not know well. To trust you, I need to know more about you in the following areas:
- About you – Who are you? Where do you come from? Which family? Who are your siblings? What is your family history?
- Your background – which kind of family did you grow? Single parent or both parents? What was your life like growing up? What challenges did you experience? Did you miss some meals or not?
- Your education journey – which schools did you attend? What were your favorite subjects? Did you participate in school leadership? Did you play sports? Which sports? What lessons did you learn when you lost in that sport or when you won? What did you learn from your favorite teachers?
- Etc and more self-discoveries. Let people tell stories about themselves.
Few people are willing to open up and answer such questions. Building trust is a process and not an event. An amateur may promise to transform a team instantly. But I have learned from experience you need 2-10 years to transform a group of people into a team. Some may fit many others may be misfits. A great leader will identify the misfits and let them exit.
So, next time you want to implement your strategy effectively, focus on the team. Are they working as a team or are they a group of individuals? At Summit Consulting we can help conduct staff team dynamics audit to assess your current team cohesion and provide you with a clear roadmap of a series of interventions to bring people together. The secret is first helping people trust one another.
If you need to create morale in your team and help them focus on the same agenda, call us. Any company can have great resources – money, great strategy, materials, markets, manpower, and machinery – but lack the make-up – the ability of the people to mobilize all these resources and work seamlessly in a collaborative environment to win. The difference, therefore, is the people working towards the same target and adding their effort to lead to it, not against it.
Need help with your team? Contact us today, visit www.summitcl.com.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.