Course Overview

Teams are a familiar concept.

Since childhood, most people have been a member of one team or another, from sports teams to work teams. Being part of a team means working with others toward a common goal. Team cohesiveness – how bound together the team members are – determines how effective the team will be, particularly in responding to outside pressures.

Cohesion benefits all teams regardless of structure, culture, or task. Military squads or platoons are teams that require a strong team cohesion as they face the rigors of combat.

Emergency response teams must be able to work together flawlessly to save lives. Deep sea divers and space exploration teams are examples of teams where cohesion is vital for safety and performance in extreme environments.

Similarly, business teams that are under pressure to perform at a high level must be tightly bound together to work closely and efficiently toward common goals.

What does it mean when a team is cohesive? A cohesive team has several characteristics:

  • Team members cooperate with each other to reach their goals
  • There is mutual trust and respect
  • Team members focus on achievement and improvement
  • Team morale is high and commitment is strong, and
  • Team members use "we," not "I," when talking about getting the job done

What is the importance of team identity?

Consider the most cohesive team you have ever been a part of. Were team members easily distinguished from non-team members?

Cohesive teams have a strong sense of team identity. Team members recognize what makes the team special, its strengths, and its goals, and they give the team greater commitment and effort.

Often, teams are distinguished by outward symbols such as uniforms, dress codes, customs, and rituals. Work teams often wear team T-shirts and hats to identify themselves as part of a particular team. This outward identification helps members see themselves as mutually accountable for results.

Three basic elements work together to build a cohesive team:

  • Communication,
  • Cooperation,
  • Trust.

These three elements do not stand alone. For example, building trust depends on good communication and a cooperative spirit.

Similarly, a high degree of trust may be vital before cooperation is possible, depending on the situation or the nature of the task.

Consider an international committee charged with developing economic policies. Team members may need to overcome competing priorities and cultural differences and establish trust before they can achieve a degree of cooperation.

In this course, you'll explore the three strands of the cord that intertwine to create a cohesive team: communication, cooperation, and trust.

  • You'll learn to recognize some of the indicators that point to a lack of cohesion and the elements they signify are most lacking.
  • You'll also learn to apply the strategies for building trust, improving communication, and increasing cooperation to improve overall team cohesion.

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