Team Building Harare, Zimbabwe

BUILDING WINNING TEAMS THROUGH TEAM COHESION

I have seen those who bake cakes mixing the different ingredients in a mixer. The process takes time and when it’s done, the eggs cannot be separated from the sugar nor from the salt. The final product is so different from the individual ingredients that would have gotten into the cake making process. Anyone who has also tasted honey can concur that the flowers from which the pollen was drawn and the sweetness that honey is are worlds apart. In the same mold as the baking of cakes and the making of honey, team cohesiveness is the strength and interconnectedness of relations between team members that makes the team a unified whole. The constituent parts that make up the team cannot be untangled as the team functions as a unified unit with little, if any point where there is a weak link. 

Cohesiveness is never an event but a process that takes time. We have been to team building events and we are expected to produce magical results within eight hours. The team building event is primarily meant at igniting and pointing to the potential of the team and what can be done to bring about the expected result. It is the attitude that each team member has that produces the cohesiveness. Cohesive teams are bound by an attitude of WE-NESS rather than the ME-NESS. Like a baker who is mixing the ingredients of a cake in a mixer, teams must undergo training which is meant at destroying the ego thing displayed by ME-NESS and inculcate the team orientation that comes in the form of WE-NESS. 

Cohesive teams have the effect of making the bond stronger, which comes from the realization that individually, nothing much is attained but through the interconnectedness that the team is made of, great results stand to be gotten. The forces that bind team members together can either be positive or negative. The positive forces come in the form of the total belief and conviction among the team members that the team is up to something big. This is followed by the commitment on the part of everyone to make that dream a reality. This is cemented by the quest to stand for each other where the team gets far bigger than the individual members who constitute the team itself.

The best way to promote team cohesion comes from the hiring process. Part of effective control comes from feed-forward control whereby the best way to control the output of a process is at the point of entry. Great teams are particular about their hiring process. This has the effect of getting the best skilled people possessing the ideal attitudes that resonate with what the team stands for and where it is heading. Hiring of the best talent is an ongoing process as long as the team aspires to make an impact in the present and the future. It is through such processes as hiring and the continuous development of the hired talent that real cohesion is built.

When the contributions of every member is valued, it goes a long way in building cohesiveness. Everyone wants to be appreciated for the work they are doing. It is when one is valued that their participation in the pursuits of the team’s agenda is enhanced.

The smaller the team, the more cohesive it tends to be because of increased face to face contact. Chances of effective interaction decreases as the team size increases. All hope is not lost though as bigger teams can be broken down into smaller unified teams in line with departmental designations and even project teams for specific assignments that need to be done.

Celebrations after a victory, big or small, has the effect of drawing the team members together. Bonding is promoted because of the togetherness. Heading into the future, reference and reminders of past victories keep the whole team unified as the feeling and fanfare of the victory is worth talking and making reference to. It’s easy to set aside differences when there is a common enemy than when there isn’t a clear target to deal with. In major sporting championships, team cohesion is enhanced with the progression to the next stage of the competition. As a team football team progresses from the group stages of a completion to the knock out stages, the level of bonding tends to get better. By the time the team gets to the final, there is increased oneness as the concentration intensifies.

“When two brothers are busy fighting, an evil man can easily attack and rob their poor mother. Mankind should always stay united, standing shoulder to shoulder so evil can never cheat and divide them.” (Suzy Kassem)

Teamwork is all about cohesive effort. It is a group of people working together towards a common goal. It is the collaborative contributions by each individual whose primary objective is completion of a predetermined task, in the most efficient way possible. Cohesiveness is that ability to hold together, no matter how difficult the circumstances become. It is this holding together that produces amazing results, possibly not imagined beforehand.

As the level of cohesiveness intensifies, negative effects must be addressed. These can come in the form of groupthink where decisions are made without much scrutiny. This is because of the overall trust that members have towards each other, notably the leader. Instead of facts being looked at for what they are, there is a tendency to place emotions into the whole decision making process to a point where some individuals cannot be challenged. This is because of the contributions made to the team by such individuals in the past. This has created demigods of certain individuals as they become the untouchables, with whatever they have to say taken as law. Great results are hampered as a result of such thinking as individual members of the team are not free to express their own ideas for fear of rebuttal or retribution. Groupthink destroys creativity in a team as been depicted in the order in which some spiritual setups operate where the founder of a Ministry is idolized to a point where everything they say is taken to be correct and should never be challenged. Instead of realizing team cohesiveness, the opposite is what tends to happen.

Noah Mangwarara

Noah Mangwarara

NOAH MANGWARARA is an international leadership coach and transformational speaker, renowned team building expert and Author with traceable footprints of positive impact and experience of more than 20 years spanning Southern, East and West Africa. He is the author of several books on Leadership, Motivation, Teamwork, Strategy and Public Speaking.

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