I love thinking about teams. Though I’m no longer working as a teambuilding consultant, I still enjoy thinking of ways people can either train teams to work together or how managers can boost team closeness. The team cohesion activity below is the result of one of those brainstorming moments I had recently. 🙂
What is a team cohesion activity? A team cohesion activity is an exercise designed to strengthen the bonds among team members, fostering collaboration, trust, and mutual understanding. These activities are strategically crafted to encourage individuals to work together, communicate effectively, and solve challenges collectively. By engaging in such activities, teams cultivate a shared sense of purpose and unity, ultimately enhancing their performance and overall effectiveness.
In my experience, team cohesion refers to the degree of unity, mutual support, and cooperation among team members. It is how well team members work together, share common goals, and maintain positive interpersonal relationships. I wrote an article about the difference between team cohesion and team building. You may agree with it or may not, but it is how I see it.
High team cohesion is characterized by a strong sense of camaraderie, trust, and a shared commitment to achieving the team’s objectives.
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Effective team cohesion can lead to several benefits:
- Improved Communication: Team members with strong cohesion tend to communicate more openly and effectively, reducing misunderstandings and conflicts.
- Higher Performance: When team members are cohesive, they’re more likely to collaborate efficiently, pool their skills, and produce better results.
- Enhanced Motivation: Yes! A cohesive team provides mutual support and encouragement, which can boost individual and collective motivation to achieve team goals.
- Better Problem-Solving: Teams with strong cohesion can brainstorm and solve problems more effectively by leveraging diverse perspectives and skills. Why? Because they are more comfortable with and equipped to work together.
- Reduced Turnover: When team members feel a strong connection to their colleagues and the team’s purpose, they are more likely to stay engaged and committed, reducing turnover rates. I think they may feel a “commitment” to one another.
- Positive Work Environment: Team cohesion contributes to a positive atmosphere where members respect each other, leading to higher job satisfaction and overall well-being. People may not mind coming it to work because they feel they are coming to a place that values them and they value others.
Building and maintaining team cohesion involves fostering open communication, establishing clear goals and roles, encouraging collaboration, and creating opportunities for team members to interact and bond.
Team-building activities, shared experiences, and effective leadership play vital roles in nurturing a cohesive team environment.
I have an idea for a team activity that could be your team’s starting point of team cohesion.
This is especially good for a brand new team – but could be a great activity for an existing team’s retreat or teambuilding day.
Team Cohesion Activity #1: A Shared Vision Exercise
It’s never too early to too late to get your team on the same page.
Go ahead. Have your team collectively create a shared vision or mission statement for your group or project. Provide each team member with materials like markers, paper, and sticky notes.
Ask them to individually jot down their thoughts on the team’s purpose, goals, and values. Afterward, bring the team together and have each member share their ideas.
Discuss common themes and craft a unified vision statement that everyone agrees on.
This activity fosters collaboration, communication, and a sense of ownership among team members as they work towards a common goal.
Instructions and Information for this team cohesion activity:
Objective: Create a vision statement for your team’s goals, values, and aspirations.
- Large blank canvas or poster paper
- Markers, colored pens, or sticky notes
- Printouts of inspirational quotes or images (optional)
- Setting the Stage:
- Gather all team members in a comfortable space for a creative session.
- Explain the activity’s purpose and say,” We are going to create a shared vision that captures the team’s collective aspirations and values.”
- Emphasize that every team member’s input is valuable and will contribute to shaping the shared vision. Encouraged everyone to participate in some way.
- Brainstorming Phase:
- Distribute markers, colored pens, or sticky notes to each team member.
- Set a timer (I used my phone) for 10-15 minutes.
- Individually or by themselves, each team member should jot down key phrases, words, or values representing (in their opinion) the team’s ideal future and purpose.
- Encourage creativity and diversity of perspectives. You could even have them search on their phones for images that represent their ideas. If they do this, have them text the images, and you can paste them on a blank PPT slide for a “reveal” during the share-out.
- Sharing and Consolidation:
- After the brainstorming phase, have each team member share their ideas one by one.
- If they are “tangible” (not those shared on the phone), write them on the large canvas or poster paper.
- Look for common themes, recurring ideas, and complementary concepts among the contributions.
- Crafting the Shared Vision:
- As a group, discuss the themes and ideas that have emerged from the brainstorming.
- Based on these discussions, collaboratively draft a concise and impactful shared vision statement that encompasses the team’s goals and values.
- Ensure that the statement resonates with all team members and reflects a sense of unity and purpose. Everyone can vote on it.
- Visual Enhancement (Optional):
- If desired, add visual elements such as inspirational images, symbols, or quotes to the canvas that further enhance the shared vision.
- Finalizing and Display:
- Review the shared vision statement as a group and make any necessary refinements.
- Once the shared vision is finalized, the statement should be neatly written or printed on the canvas, surrounded by the visual elements.
- Consider displaying the completed shared vision canvas in a prominent area where the team works.
- Conclude the activity by discussing how the shared vision resonates with each team member and how it can guide the team’s actions and decisions moving forward.
- Emphasize the importance of working collaboratively to achieve the shared goals outlined in the vision.
This activity helps the team articulate their shared aspirations and strengthens their sense of unity and commitment to achieving those aspirations together.
I suggest every team member add it to their email footers, if possible. If not, for the weekly staff meeting, have someone recite it at the start of the meeting. This reminds me of what clubs do by reciting the club’s mission or reason for existing. Team cohesion and clubs should not be that far apart conceptually, right?
Team Cohesion Activity #2: “Team Building Challenge: Bridge Building.”
Building something together as a team offers many benefits beyond tangible outcomes. It fosters a sense of unity and shared purpose, promoting collaboration, communication, and problem-solving among team members.
As individuals contribute their unique skills and perspectives, they learn to leverage each other’s strengths and compensate for weaknesses, creating a cohesive and harmonious work dynamic.
Conceptualizing, planning, and executing a project together enhances creativity and innovation as team members brainstorm ideas and explore diverse approaches.
Moreover, the physical manifestation of their combined efforts serves as a powerful symbol of achievement and collective pride, reinforcing team morale and motivation.
Ultimately, the act of building together cultivates a deep sense of camaraderie, trust, and mutual respect, nurturing a more powerful and effective team.
Wait out the moments the teams “struggle” or disagree. They will figure out a way to move past it. Don’t run in, as the facilitator, to “save’ them.
Ok. Here is the next activity and how it can play out.
Objective: Enhance teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and collaboration skills among team members.
- Craft supplies (straws, paper, tape, popsicle sticks, etc.)
- Small weights (such as coins or small objects)
- Measuring tape or ruler
- Divide the team into smaller groups (ideally 4-6 members per group).
- Explain that each group’s task is to build a bridge using the provided materials that can hold a specific weight (determined beforehand) without collapsing. Tell them each person in the team should have a role or job. I like to say “no gold bricks allowed.”
- Bridge Building:
- Provide the craft supplies to each group and inform them about the weight their bridge needs to support.
- Set a time limit (e.g., 30-45 minutes) for the construction phase.
- During this time, team members must work together to design and build their bridge.
Note: sometimes, in the last 10 minutes, I will do something to take up the team. Either I will remove a “key” person or take away a “key” item (i.e., scissors, tape, etc.).
- Testing Phase:
- Once the construction time is up, gather all the groups and their bridges.
- One by one, place the small weights onto each bridge to test its durability and capacity.
- Use the measuring tape or ruler to measure the deflection (how much the bridge bends under the weight) to determine the effectiveness of each bridge.
- Discussion and Reflection:
- After testing, have each group present their bridge to the entire team. They can explain their design, strategy, and any challenges they faced.
- Facilitate a discussion about the different approaches the teams took, the lessons learned, and the successes achieved.
- Encourage team members to share insights about how their experiences during the activity relate to their daily work dynamics.
- Lead a debriefing session to discuss the key takeaways from the activity:
- How did the teams collaborate during the construction phase?
- What communication strategies were effective in overcoming challenges?
- What parallels can be drawn between building bridges and working as a team in the workplace?
- If you removed something, ask: “What could be learned about a resource being removed?” and “How did it feel when I removed ___________________?” and “How is this like real l life?
- This activity requires effective communication and collaboration to successfully design and construct the bridge.
- It emphasizes problem-solving and adaptability, as teams might need to revise their designs based on testing results.
- The testing phase adds an element of excitement and friendly competition among teams.
- The debriefing session encourages participants to reflect on teamwork dynamics and apply lessons learned to their work environment.
By engaging in this bridge-building challenge, team members can experience firsthand the importance of teamwork, adaptability, and effective communication while strengthening their bonds during the team retreat.
Listen, a great team is more than just individuals working together. It’s a group of people with different skills and personalities working harmoniously towards shared goals.
When team members have strong connections, communicate well, and share a common vision, they become a powerful force. Indeed, there is nothing as powerful as a strong team. I was once part of one, and 30 years later, we still state in charge and have reunions.
My Final Thoughts
Unity boosts productivity, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. From brainstorming sessions to important projects, the positive effects of team cohesion can be seen in all aspects of the team’s work, leading to success and a strong legacy.
Hey, thanks for reading!