Three great ways to achieve team cohesion - Unlock Your Team's Genius

Three great ways to achieve team cohesion

By Georg Fasching | agile practice

Aug 23

Understand the psychology aspects that build and reinforce trust within scrum teams

Tip 1: Lay a solid psychological foundation

The most fundamental aspect of team cohesion is psychological safety between peers. Researched in depth by Dr. Amy Edmondson, and popularised through Google’s Project Aristotle, psychological safety recognises that like all animals, our actions are based on reactions to threats versus comforts.

When we feel threatened we will either go into fight, flight or freeze mode. In any of these states we are not present in the moment and cannot tap into our past experiences to make important decisions about the future. We don’t have full access to our competence and capability. That’s why it’s so important to foster an environment of psychological safety as a foundation for team cohesion.

“You need an environment that fosters psychological safety to develop trust within the team”

Tip 2: Teach the team to fail together

Failure, as we learn throughout the exploration of agile ways of working, is an important and unavoidable, as well as natural part of working collaboratively in a complex-adaptive system. It simply means that something we thought or assumed turn out differently. The team must realise that they will set goals but not all of them will come to fruition, and this allows for wonderful opportunities.

It becomes an opportunity to inspect and adapt as per the following:

  1. Inspect what led the team to fail–both internal and external factors.
  2. Adapt and iterate so the team have a better chance of success in future.

Once the team are more comfortable with failing they will help each other to avoid those pitfalls and edge closer to success each time.

Tip 3: Facilitate feedback

Another cornerstone of team cohesion is the ability to offer and receive honest and constructive feedback. As the team coach or scrum coach, you won’t be around for every conversation, so it’s important to get the team comfortable with feedback as soon as possible.

There are a number of team trust exercises you can find online that will help your team to feedback to one another in a way that’s constructive and benefits their continued development. I always share the SBI model, Situation (when/context) – Behaviour (observed behaviour of other person) – Impact (emotional impact on you.

A: “May I offer you some feedback?”

B: “Sure.”

A: “In our Sprint Review meeting this morning, I saw you have a great solution-orientated difficult conversation with a stakeholder of yours. That made me feel really proud to be in a team with you.”

B: “Thank you.”

Try acknowledging feedback first in order to get comfortable with offering and receiving feedback in the team. Then offer growth feedback about experiences that had a suboptimal emotional impact on you. Aim for a ratio of 4-5:1, acknowledging to growth.

I hope the video and tips above help you to define the fundamental building blocks of team cohesion. They should give you an idea of where to start when looking at reinforcing the working relationships within the team so that they can iterate and improve faster along their team development, and more effectively than before.

If you have any questions or topics you’d like me to cover, leave a comment below or send me a message through my website. Thanks for reading. See you next time!

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About the Author

An agilist since 2010 and in product management since the 90s, Georg Fasching helps digital creative agencies delight their clients, fulfil their people, and improve their prosperity.

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