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

Three great ways to achieve team cohesion

By Georg Fasching | Team Coaching

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!

Here’s the full transcript:

-Hi, Georg Fasching here, helping you unlock your team’s genius.
In this video, I am covering team cohesion and how you can achieve and grow it.
Welcome back to another episode in the Power of Three series where I spending just three minutes to share my top three tips and encouragement on a particular subject.
So, on team cohesion, let us put three minutes on the clock starting now.
The first thing about team cohesion is that when it comes to team building objectives, you probably want to focus quite early and from the very start on growing psychological safety, and that is a foundation of team cohesion.
Psychological safety is a concept that was researched very, very extensively by Amy Edmondson.
She’s also written a number of papers and books on it that were peer reviewed and so on and so forth.
Psychological safety looks at what is going on for us on a very, very basic level when it comes to threat versus comfort.
If humans, like other animals, feel threatened, then we go into a defensive mode.
We might either fight, flight, or freeze.
Where those reactions are in there, the mind cannot be
really be fully present.
We cannot really be tapping into all our experiences.
So in the team, we need to have an environment that fosters psychological safety.
With that, we can develop trust in the team.
So that is one of the key components of achieving and growing team cohesion in your team.
The second aspect comes down to learning how to fail together.
So you will have certain team building activities and team processes that will help you with that, but learning how to fail together as a team is very important.
It is inevitable whenever a team sets itself goals, sometimes they will not come to fruition through various reasons, so that’s an opportunity for the team to inspect and adapt, to come back together to work out why it is that they did not achieve their goal,why it is that they failed, so to speak, and why they ended up with a
learning opportunity like that.
Helping a team become comfortable with that is a key teamwork skill that you can grow.
The third aspect that I would recommend for you to invest on in the team and growing as a skill, as a teamwork skill, across the team is the ability to offer
and receive feedback.
Another cornerstone out of my three things for growing team cohesion, when you want to have a strong team, this team needs to be comfortable offering and receiving feedback together.
That really helps also you as the leader or the coach of the team because you cannot be with the team every single minute and you cannot be part of every single conversation that goes on in the team.
It’s much better to actually grow resilience within the team and let the team correct certain measures and increase its creativity and increase its resilience through a built-in feedback ability, and doing that well
and doing that properly and continuously is a key teamwork skill.
So out of those three things that I have measured, there are a number of trust exercises that you can do to help grow that.
Altogether these three practices will help you achieve and grow team cohesion.
And with that, our time is up, the three minutes for this video.
If you have any thoughts on this, please do not hesitate to post them in the comments down below.
Also, I’d really appreciate it you could like, share, and subscribe this video.
I look forward to sharing more in this area with you in the next video.
Thank you very much, and all the best for your practice with the team, thank you.


About the Author

A leadership team development specialist, International Coach Federation - Professional Certified Coach, with global product management experience since 2000, employing Agile & Lean since 2010, Georg Fasching helps digital creative agencies’ leadership teams delight their clients, fulfil their people, and improve their prosperity.