Social Cohesion: Helping your team ‘stick’ together

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan

One of the most legendary basketball players, and one who could simply walk into almost any basketball team, professes working in a team though he could very easily simply give credit to individual heroics to win games.

It is an understated but critical ability – not only being able to function well within a team, but also to create a safe space where every team member feels valued and is able to contribute. A study indicates that 75% of cross-functional teams are ‘dysfunctional’. Cross-functional teams are probably worse off on collaboration because individuals from each function would have their own agenda to drive, but even within the same function, teams don’t always work well together.

Social cohesion refers to the ability of a team to gel well together and work smoothly towards a shared objective. It is a key ingredient of a high-performing and inspiring work culture. The increase in productivity and improvement in business results due to highly engaged teams that work together is beyond dispute. A Gallup study highlights that highly engaged companies result in 21% greater profitability than the industry average. 

Empowered workers who feel motivated to bring their whole, authentic selves to work every single day are vital to building a socially cohesive team. People should not need to fake being who they are, just to fit in. The team must be able to provide each other with the psychological safety of being able to voice opinions and have ideas accepted. In this regard, inclusion is too important to be left only to leaders. Unless team members actively embrace each other’s differences and not only accept them but actually thrive on them, a leadership focus on inclusion will not have much impact.

There can be cultural nuances to interaction, but trust transcends everything else. If you cannot trust the person next to you to have your back in a crisis, the team will collapse. Errors are bound to happen, but does the team fall into a blame game or instead trying to diagnose and strengthen for the future?

Some questions to ask to diagnose the cohesion in your team are:

1. Is everyone willing to voice opinions and ideas readily?

2. Do team meetings result in concrete outcomes?

3. Are people excited about taking on more responsibilities?

4. Do people feel comfortable enough to talk to each other about mistakes?

5. Do people sacrifice their personal interests if it benefits the team?

If the answer to even one of these questions is a ‘No’ or a ‘Maybe/sometimes’, there surely is work to be done on cohesion.

Recruitment and promotion: At the time of recruiting new employees, their fitment into the organization can be managed better through a job evaluation matrix. For promotions as well, clarity around the abilities and problem-solving skills needed is available so that managers can not only make the right decisions, but also effectively convey them to people.

Role clarity: People are clearer about their own roles as well as available career paths. They have a fair opportunity to evaluate the ‘worth’ of their current roles and understand the expectations for the current roles as well as future roles.

Job evaluation is a great tool to strike a balance between the accountability and the ability of people, and to gauge whether a job is even ‘doable’ or not. Gone are the days when it was thought of as a rewards tool. Now, it is increasingly being seen as a complete talent tool with companies leveraging it to make smarter investments in unlocking human capital.

Are you ready to optimize your talent and capability through job evaluation?

About the Author

Sumit Singla

Founder of eleventHR Consulting.

Sumit has been working in HR & HR consulting roles for 16+ years across sectors and verticals and specializes in organization design, wellbeing, storytelling & design thinking, and performance management.

In his career with consulting firms such as Aon, Deloitte, and Accenture, he has successfully led programs aimed at total HR transformation for clients. Recently, as Associate Director for India Consulting at Deloitte, he worked with clients on cultural transformation and HR process and policy design.

He also organized and spoke at conferences and events about a variety of topics relevant to HR today. Now self-employed, he works with clients across the globe on a variety of HR solution areas.

Sumit Singla
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