What Is Cohesion?
Cohesion is one of the foremost desired outcomes of team building activities. In the Journal Ofof Sports Science, A.V. Carron (Team Cohesion & Team Success, Vol. 20) defined cohesion as:
"A dynamic process that is reflected in the tendency of a group to stick together and remain united in the pursuit of its instrumental objectives and / or for the satisfaction of member needs."
Cohesion is dynamic, which means it can change. Sometimes a team will feel more united than at other times. Team building activities are effective in promoting unity by giving team members positive shared experiences.
Cohesion & Improved Team Performance
Various studies including one by Evans & Dion (1991) have found that cohesive groups perform significantly better than non-cohesive groups. A team working in this way will perform better in their specific work functions and will also experience positive effects on their satisfaction and happiness at work.
Yalom (1985) found that cohesiveness leads to increased self-esteem, more willingness to listen to others, freer expression of feeling, better reality testing, greater self-confidence and more effective use of other team member's evaluations in enhancing their own development (for example in 360 degree feedback).
Perception of Peers
Research by Dodunski & Gordon (A Study Of The Effect Of An Outdoor Education Experience) found that participants' perception of their peers positively affected by participation in outdoor activities. The demeanour and character of a team can be changed with preconceived notions replaced with positive perceptions.
Patrick Lencioni in “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” writes about the five behaviours that lead to a cohesive team.
When team members are transparent and honest it forms a psychologically safe environment to build vulnerability trust and for members to speak their mind without fear of retribution.
Trust allows team members to have an unfiltered debate of their ideas
When team members have been heard and respected through healthy conflict they are more likely to commit to the decision irrespective of whether they agree with it or not.
When everyone is committed to a clear plan of action the team is more likely to hold each other accountable.
The ultimate goal is to achieve the teams results and this is driven through trust, conflict, commitment and accountability.
To learn more about Lencioni’s 5 dysfunctions of a team click here (Link to TBCo page on Lencioni)