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Becoming a Cohesive Group: Using Team Building to Increase Group Cohesion

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  • 0:06 Group Cohesion
  • 1:37 The Importance of Team…
  • 3:30 How Team Building Works
  • 6:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sherri Hartzell

Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.

Have you ever wondered why some groups seem to work better together than others? In this lesson you will learn what it means to be a cohesive group and how team building activities can be used to increase group cohesion.

Group Cohesion

An orchestra is a large instrumental ensemble that contains sections of brass, string, percussion and woodwind instruments. While each of these instruments can produce a unique and pleasant sound on their own, it is the orchestra combining the sounds of various instruments together at one time that creates a true musical masterpiece. The same principle applies in groups: to be truly effective, groups must have cohesion, wherein members work together (much like an orchestra) to create something special.

Like orchestras, groups in the workplace must have cohesion.
orchestra

Cohesion is the degree to which group members come together as one unit to reach a common goal. Members of cohesive groups see themselves as one entity rather than a collection of individuals. Group members have a positive regard for one another and get along well. They listen to and trust one another and respect each other's opinion even if they disagree. It is a feeling of deep loyalty and togetherness and includes the degree to which each individual has made the group's goal his or her own.

The productivity of groups is strongly related to their cohesiveness. In fact, research has shown that cohesive groups perform better than non-cohesive groups in decision-making activities. As a manager, it is critical for you to understand ways to increase cohesiveness in the groups that you lead. One way to improve group cohesion is through team building activities.

The Importance of Team Building

Team building requires a sequence of planned activities aimed at improving teamwork to increase group cohesion and effectiveness. Team building works to build better relationships, increase understanding of group goals and improve communications among members. Many underestimate the importance of team building and think that group cohesion and teamwork occur naturally in groups. Unfortunately, quite the opposite is true; those things must be continuously supported and nurtured by all group members. Just think about a sports team. At the beginning of a season, the coach has to spend time blending a variety of personalities, talents and attitudes together. As the season progresses, players may lose focus, get frustrated with the lack of performance or become complacent. Even world-champion teams have losing streaks and are far from immune to the need for continuous team building activities. When the season draws to a close, it becomes evident which teams worked hard at team building throughout the season and which did not by seeing which teams made it to the playoffs.

Even world-champion teams must participate in continuous team-building activities.
team building

Work groups and teams have similar challenges. When a group is newly formed they must tackle the difficulties of becoming familiar with one another and begin the process of working together. As they progress through the stages of group development they too may experience problems of inadequate teamwork and lack of cohesion at various points of time. This is why team building is so important to the long-term success of any group or team. When done correctly and at the right times, team building can help a group manage their level of cohesion and teamwork challenges when they happen or help them prevent such issues from developing at all.

How Team Building Works

The objective of team building is improving teamwork to increase group cohesion and effectiveness. There are many different approaches to team building that can be used to meet this objective depending on the difficulties that a particular group is facing. Three of the most common types of team building include personality-based team building, activity-based team building and skills-based team building .

Personality-Based Team Building

Personality-based team building is used to increase the understanding of who each group member is and how to better communicate with one another. Typically group members will take a personality assessment that helps them not only learn about their own personalities but also learn about the personalities of their fellow group members. The assessment results become a learning tool that groups can use to facilitate various developmental activities.

Personality assessments help individuals learn about their personalities and those of group members.
personality assessments

Activity-Based Team Building

Activity-based team building is used to provide a group with challenging tasks aimed at problem-solving, risk-taking, trust-building and paradigm-breaking. These activities may have little to do with what the group does in the real world but serve as an important example for how to apply these skills in their group work.

Skills-Based Team Building

Skills-based team building, in contrast to activity-based team building, is aimed at improving the specific teamwork skills that group members need to accomplish their goal and can be immediately applied in the workplace. Skills such as teamwork, listening, conflict resolution, giving feedback and criticism and running effective meetings are the focus of skills-based team building. Skills-based team building helps to get at the root cause of many group difficulties by addressing the skills needed to work effectively in a group environment.

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