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5 Reasons Why Teams Don't Work Together Cohesively - and How to Fix Them

It's no secret that great teams produce better results. When a team works together cohesively, they can achieve remarkable things. However, many teams struggle to work together in harmony. Here are five common reasons why teams fail to work cohesively, along with solutions to get your team back on track.

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1. Lack of Clear Goals

A team without clear goals is like a ship without a rudder - drifting aimlessly with no direction. Team members can end up working at cross purposes without realizing it. Establish shared goals that everyone understands and agrees with. Make sure they are specific enough to guide tasks and decisions. Review them regularly as a team to maintain alignment.

2. Poor Communication

Miscommunication and lack of communication break down collaboration. Team members fail to coordinate properly, and misunderstandings arise. Set expectations for communication methods and frequency. Schedule regular team meetings and check-ins. Create space for open dialogue where everyone can share ideas and concerns. Listen actively to understand each other better.

3. Unclear Roles and Responsibilities

When roles and responsibilities are fuzzy, people may overstep boundaries or let duties slip through the cracks. Explicitly define each person's role and responsibilities. Document them for reference. Revisit occasionally to adjust as needed. Ensure there is no duplication or overlap getting in the way.

4. Lack of Trust

Trust is the foundation for successful collaboration. Without it, team members hesitate to rely on each other. Nurture trust by being reliable and following through on promises. Be open and transparent in communications. Support others and have their backs. Find opportunities to socialize and bond as a team. Trust deepens with time as you prove yourself to be trustworthy.

5. Conflicting Work Styles

Personality clashes and work style differences can create friction within a team. Respect each other's working styles and preferences. Look for synergies between complementary strengths. Foster open-mindedness towards different approaches. Focus on the work output, not how someone gets there. Guide debates towards constructive solutions.

Tips to Improve Team Cohesion

Once you identify issues harming team cohesion, take action to fix them. Here are some techniques to bring your team together:

  • Run a start stop continue retrospective. This provides a structured way to give feedback. Identify behaviors to start doing more of, stop doing, and continue doing. Implement improvements.

  • Clarify roles. Explicitly delineate each person’s role and responsibilities. Get alignment and buy-in from the team.

  • Set team goals and values. Align on goals and define shared values. Use them to guide decisions and reinforce cultural norms.

  • Improve communication. Establish consistent channels and cadences for communication. Foster environments where people listen actively and feel psychologically safe.

  • Build relationships. Make time for team building activities and social interactions. Get to know each other as people. Strengthen bonds and trust.

  • Practice collaboration. Structure projects to require collaboration. Highlight interdependencies between roles. Reinforce teamwork.

With some targeted effort, you can get your team working together more cohesively. A start, stop, continue workshop is an excellent way to jumpstart the process. Improving how your team collaborates will enable you to achieve greater success. By implementing some of these tips, you can get your team on track to better performance.

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