5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team: Accountability & More

cohesive team

Are you tired of seeing your cohesive team fall short of their potential, despite having clear goals?

In the world of leadership, we often assume that setting a common goal is the key to team success.

But how many times have you set a clear objective, only to watch your team struggle, miscommunicate, or fail to achieve it? 

The truth is, having a shared goal is just an aspiration to go somewhere. How easy a journey you face depends on how well your team works together to achieve that goal.

Transform Your Team: The Secrets to Unstoppable Cohesion

Let’s take a deeper dive into what makes some teams cohesive powerhouses, while others remain disjointed and ineffective. 

Bandits Hockey team

My wife and I are on a recreational hockey team, and when we play, we have a simple aim: have fun and win games. Everyone on our team shares that goal. Despite having a common goal, the team struggles when we fail to act as a unified force. Especially if we disagree on strategies. This scenario is not unique to sports; it happens in business every day.

The problem isn’t the goal; it’s the lack of cohesive behaviors among team members. 

Cohesion isn’t about agreeing on everything. It’s about aligning behaviors that drive the team forward as one. 

Here are the five critical behaviors necessary to create a highly cohesive team:

  1. Open and Clear Communication
  2. Trust
  3. Responsiveness
  4. Accountability
  5. Mutual Support

Let’s break down each behavior and see how it can transform your team:

1. The Power of Open and Clear Communication

Communication is the lifeblood of any team. However, it’s not just about talking; it’s about listening and ensuring every team member feels heard. This concept is often referred to as psychological safety. When team members feel safe to express their thoughts and ideas without fear of judgment, they contribute more openly and effectively.

A study from 1992 on Collective Behavior and Team Performance by James Drieskell and Deuardo Salas on team effectiveness highlighted the role of the “egocentric” behavior in team communication. Teams with lower egos were made of members who were more inclined to listen and consider others’ input. These teams were over 3x more effective than other teams dominated by egos. 

Encouraging open communication, by openly valuing everyone’s input, can drastically improve your team’s performance.

2. Building Trust Within Your Cohesive Team

If communication is the lifeblood, trust is the arteries of any cohesive team. Without it, open communication spills out and falls flat. 

Trust means believing that your teammate’s input is as valuable as your own. It means taking their advice seriously and acting on it.

Building trust takes time and consistency. One way to build trust is by being responsive. When team members share ideas or concerns, addressing them promptly shows that you value their input. 

Ignoring or dismissing feedback erodes trust. It hampers team cohesion. Be careful to pay attention to feedback, positive or negative.

3. The Importance of Responsiveness

Responsiveness is acting on feedback in a timely manner. Imagine a team member provides a critical piece of information, and it’s ignored. Not only does this demotivate the individual, but it also sends a message to the entire team that their input isn’t valued. 

Respond quickly, even if it’s just to acknowledge the feedback and thank them for sharing. This demonstrates to your team that everyone’s contribution matters.

4. What Accountability Does for Your Cohesive Team

Accountability means owning up to mistakes and learning from them. It’s crucial for building trust and reliability within the team. Accountability is about following procedures, and ensuring that everyone is doing their part correctly. 

Team members need to be accountable to three groups: themselves, their team, and external stakeholders (such as clients or customers). 

Accountability starts with a commitment to do the job correctly and not cut corners; to follow the processes and procedures that have been set in place.  This way everyone knows what everyone else on the team is doing.  This adherence to procedures actually allows for flexibility when warranted because the team will be starting from a known process and only need to talk about the planned deviation.

When mistakes are made, owning up to them quickly and transparently allows the team to address issues, move forward, and iterate the processes if needed to account for changes in the environment. This openness not only builds trust, but also encourages continuous improvement.

5. The Role of Mutual Support in Team Cohesion

Mutual support means having each other’s backs, especially when things go wrong. During a project, there will be times when someone drops the ball. In those moments, it’s crucial for team members to step in and help without assigning blame. 

This creates an environment where everyone feels supported and willing to take risks. Your team needs to know that they won’t be left to fend for themselves if they stumble.  This only happens when the other four behaviors are present.  Without clear communications, trust, responsiveness, and accountability mutual support will be ineffective at best and non-existent at worst.

Imagine the transformation in your team if these behaviors were the norm. 

Communication would flow freely. Trust would be solid. Responsiveness would be rapid. Accountability would support actions. Mutual support would create a safety net for everyone.

Ready to transform your team into a cohesive, high-performing unit?

Start by implementing these five behaviors today. 

Begin with open communication, and build trust by valuing and acting on your team’s input. Be responsive to feedback, and hold each other accountable. Finally, ensure mutual support so that everyone feels secure in their role and contributions.

By focusing on these five essential behaviors, you can create a team that works as a unified force. This will make you ready to tackle any challenge, and achieve extraordinary results.

Let’s move from chaos to cohesion, and unlock the true potential of your team.

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