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Building a Cohesive Team: Challenges and Tips for Leaders

Team cohesion is one of the most important factors for your success as a leader. Use these tips to overcome common challenges and build a strong and healthy team.

March 15th, 2022

by Sheekha Singh

in People & Culture

Hiring strong employees is only the beginning for team leaders. It takes time and effort to build trust and cohesion among team members, but you’ll find that creating a high-performing team is worth the work. You’ll meet your business goals, maximize your team’s productivity, and increase their job satisfaction.

What Is Team Cohesion?

A cohesive team is one in which all its members share a strong sense of common identity and work together towards a common goal.

Team members should feel that they have each contributed to the group’s success. They should respect and support one another and share goals, values, and processes in pursuit of the same cause.

Why Build a Cohesive Team?

The success of a specific project or the company overall can depend on how well a team works together. Team cohesiveness is impactful in several ways, including the following:

  • A well-aligned team is also more efficient, ensuring that the work gets done on time and with high quality. Without that efficient dynamic, the project could fall behind schedule or contain preventable errors.
  • Employee engagement is key to a team’s success. Team members who don’t feel like they belong will seek out other opportunities. Engagement is especially important for remote team members, who may not see their colleagues in person much if at all. This has become a bigger issue in the past few years as more businesses switch to remote work.
  • A more cohesive team will have a greater level of psychological safety, fewer conflicts, and a shared sense of accountability. This eases the burden on the team leader, who won’t be required to manage many internal conflicts.

How to Build a Cohesive Team

Building a cohesive team doesn’t happen overnight. The right group dynamic can be a challenge to achieve, especially if you’re new to group work. Whether you’re refining an existing team or building a new one, here are some best practices to follow.

Establish a Shared Mission

If you have a clear sense of your organization’s goal, you’ll be better able to hire candidates who will work towards that goal. Your team members need to know their mission and how they’re expected to achieve it.

Lead by Example

As the leader, you must demonstrate openness, respect, patience, and trust in your team. If you believe in your team and their work, you establish a foundation that your team can build upon. You must also create an environment that acknowledges and supports team members’ differences, as championing the strength and diversity of a team increases cohesion.

Appreciate and Seek Feedback

Offering constructive feedback during a project helps improve your team’s workflow and morale. You can strengthen bonds among team members by discussing what went wrong and what could be done better next time. It is also crucial to ask for feedback. The team needs to feel that their leader is approachable and values their opinions.

Encourage Collaborative Teamwork

Conducting team-building exercises like escape rooms or office trivia games will help you see how team members work towards a common goal. Additionally, you can increase your team members’ productivity and efficiency if you know their strengths and weaknesses and delegate work accordingly. This can be done through personality tests and regular analysis of the results. Encourage discussions when a problem arises and involve the entire team in seeking a solution.

Remove Communication Barriers

Communication must be clear and effective to achieve cohesion. This includes setting specific deadlines and giving straightforward instructions. If team members or clients get frustrated by misunderstandings, you should recheck the ways in which you and your team communicate. Otherwise, these barriers can prevent the team from performing well.

Cultivate Trust

If a team is experiencing trust issues, you need to find and resolve the root cause so you can better unify the team. Conduct meetings to get feedback from team members so you can find a solution. The way you communicate ideas, goals, and strategies is vital in building trust. It’s also important to support your team when they deal with challenges or errors. Without that support and transparency, team cohesion is not possible.

Celebrate Success

While you’re working with deployments and tight deadlines, it can be easy to forget the achievements of your team. Carve out time to celebrate successes and encourage further achievement. Your team members want to know that their hard work is noticed. You can boost their sense of accomplishment when you begin a retrospective by discussing what went well with a project.

Challenges to Building Cohesive Teams

When building your team, you may encounter some obstacles. Here are some of the challenges that you might face when trying to create a more cohesive team.

Team Member Conflicts

Team members and managers might not know how to handle difficult conversations, instead avoiding them whenever possible. This can end in conflicts. As the leader, you must know how to resolve such conflicts effectively with techniques that involve effective communication and regular one-on-one meetings with everyone on the team.

Lack of Trust

If team members don’t trust each other, this can be a hurdle. It’s especially true if they have trouble understanding or appreciating each other’s differences. Ensuring that team members take the time to learn about each other can help overcome this distrust and build stronger relationships.

Competition, Not Collaboration

When an organization has scarce resources, team members may compete for those resources rather than collaborate. This could be a challenge, especially in smaller teams. To overcome this challenge, you can teach your team members to advocate for their colleagues, which encourages discussions and improves the bond among team members.

Toxic Team Members

Not all team members will be able to adapt to more collaborative, supportive methods. Some may resist change and be unwilling to hear new ideas. Use change management tactics like employee readiness assessments; employee engagement, buy-in, and participation measures; communication effectiveness; employee feedback; and employee satisfaction survey results to handle difficult team members. This will help you cultivate a healthy bond among your team.


Building a cohesive team can be a never-ending process, with new challenges appearing for every new project. To overcome these challenges, you need to consistently consider the needs of your team and communicate effectively. This will help ensure your team stays cohesive and works effectively, producing the best results possible for your business.

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