Teamwork

Tips for Building a Cohesive Team

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: I’m a new manager and I’m having a difficult time getting my team to work well together. Can you help me with some ideas on how to make the group more cohesive?

A: Begin by focusing on your team’s mission. Do you have a clear vision for what your team is trying to accomplish? Do they? If not, it’s not surprising that they aren’t working as cohesively as they should. Start by drafting a statement of purpose that you can define in a few sentences.

However, knowing what you are supposed to be doing is only part of the solution. Your team also needs to understand how you expect them work together, including some basic ground rules. You may want to have a discussion and come to an agreement on issues such as:

  • Participation. Each team member commits to actively participate in the projects assigned, including attending meetings and meeting deadlines.
  • Mutual respect. Each team member agrees to support others on the team and respect their opinions and ideas.
  • Confidentiality. Each team member agrees to keep work confidential as needed.

Your role as the team leader is to work to establish a trusting relationship with each of your team members and to help them trust each other.

The next step is to set team norms, which describe processes and help set expectations. Some questions to answer:

  • What role does each team member play?
  • How will you communicate?
  • How often will the team come together for meetings?
  • How will you resolve conflicts when they arise?

Your role as the team leader is to work to establish a trusting relationship with each of your team members and to help them trust each other. To accomplish this, be as open and transparent as possible, set clear expectations, and hold your team members accountable to the ground rules and norms you have set.

As you work to build a strong team, remember to celebrate successes and reward excellence. This will go a long way toward fostering team spirit.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].

Organizational Culture Performance Management