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September - 2007 - issue > Cover Feature
Building a cohesive team
Pramod K Mishra
Monday, September 3, 2007
As more organizations recognize the importance of human capital to the bottom line, identifying the strategies that improve individual performance as well as the team performance is most important to gain competitive advantage. Given the consequences of success or failure in this endeavor, organizations must not only identify the ways to build a “team-centric” work force, but also embed “a cohesive team approach” with precision and accuracy.

Cohesive teams, a must for organizations
To ensurie success in an environment in which declining budgets are juxtaposed with aggressive growth, organizations have to obtain the highest possible level of performance from their employees. However, the challenge of devising the tools and mechanisms to bring out the “highest possible level of performance” from employees remains a persistent one. Inspite of numerous solutions proposed this issue, almost all accept that an organization composed of “cohesive teams” always possesses a competitive edge over others in effective implementation of strategic directives.

Characteristics of a cohesive team:
Discretionary effort: The extent of effort put in by the team for the job, and constantly looking for ways to do it better; going to the extra mile to complete the job; and its desire to be described by the organization as being ‘enthusiastic’.

Organizational commitment: The extent of inculcating a sense of ‘belonging’ in the team, and its tendency to consider the organization’s problems as its own.

Team strength: The extent to which each team member believes that every other member they work with bring something important to the team, all members they work with do their fair share of the work, and every one at work is concerned about whether he does a good
job or not.

Distinguishing the roles of the organization, the manager, and the team members
1. Organization:The organization should have a robust management system with a performance culture.
* Create performance standards that are perceived as fair and linked to organizational success and
* Encourage and manage the craving to take risks.
Institutionalize the free flow of information,
openness, and flexibility.

2. Manager: Managers must engage themselves in manager-team interactions, formal reviews, and informal feedbacks.
* Must help the team find tangible and immediate solutions to specific work challenges.
* Should bring out a positive outlook during formal review discussions.
* Discussions on the team’s performance improvement must be clearly focused on specific suggestions for development.
* Take time to explain the bigger picture. The team will perform better if it understands how its work contributes to the organizational strategy and success.
* Provide the team with highly visible opportunities that leverages its strengths.
* Should keep in mind that fair and accurate informal feedback from a knowledgeable source is a very effective mechanism for quantum improvement.

3. Team: It is equally important for the team to understand its day-to-day work and opportunities lying ahead of them.
* The team that understands and enjoys its work significantly outperforms those who do not.
* Training should be functionally effective. Training in general skills tend to be much less effective.

However, no one category of theory and practice is singularly important and sufficient to build a cohesive team. The most effective strategy is a composition of a portfolio of carefully selected organizational, managerial, and team- related levers.

Also, organizational factors, systems, and culture have a large impact on building a cohesive team. Effective communication amongst all levels is the core of any successful strategy.

He can be reached at pkmishra@fcg.com
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