The Significance of Cohesiveness in Teams
Developed by Hildur Lara Jonsdottir, February 2022
Cohesiveness refers to a group of individuals that stick together and work together to achieve a common goal. The cohesiveness of a team is one of the most important aspects of a project's success, and a variety of factors may determine it.  The aspects of team cohesion are multidimensionality, instrumental foundation, dynamic, team development and emotional nature.  The key characteristics that determine team cohesion are similar interests, group size, shared successes, and the threat of external competition. Making time for team members to recognise one another's abilities and dealing with emotional concerns are crucial factors to consider while improving team cohesion.  It has been observed how long it takes for teams to grow and how critical it is to form a cohesive team during the early phases of team development. 
As businesses aim to gain a competitive advantage, teams are becoming more critical in promoting knowledge, morale, and innovation. Project managers and team leaders must devise strategies to help their teams become more cohesive. Team cohesion may be improved through empowering group members, resolving conflicts, and recognising each individual's contribution. The benefits of team cohesiveness are frequently perceived as overwhelmingly positive. The link between cohesiveness and performance has been studied and proven to be helpful on a regular basis. The concept that team cohesiveness can adversely affect team performance and other outcomes has gotten little attention.  Given the importance of cohesiveness to a team's and organisation's performance, correct assessment of this construct is crucial; nevertheless, precise measurement is challenging due to several factors. These challenges are due to teams changing over their lifespan, irrelevant methodologies used and other components of cohesiveness may be more relevant to measure than others that are not taken into consideration. Despite substantial progress over the years, improved team cohesiveness requires more robust, precise, theoretically motivated, practical, and innovative solutions.  This article will discuss the concept of cohesion, its benefits and downsides, and its application and limitations.
The Big Idea: Introduction to Cohesiveness
What is Cohesiveness?
The quality of sticking together, or causing things to stick together" is a standard definition of cohesiveness. 
Cohesiveness refers to the degree and intensity of interpersonal attraction among team members. Team members are drawn to one another and are motivated to stick together and a team's ability to work together toward a common goal. Cohesion will integrate a team's interpersonal skills, negotiation skills, cooperation, team process commitment, communication skills, and shared leadership.  Everyone in a team should understand their position, feel confident in their abilities, and be dedicated to the team's ultimate goal. 
To grasp the dynamic nature of team cohesiveness, it's necessary to identify the term "team". A team is defined as "a distinct group of two or more individuals that interact in a dynamic, interdependent, and adaptable manner toward a common and valued goal/objective/mission".  Teams are the foundation of how projects, activities, and tasks are structured and handled in businesses worldwide. Everyone has been a part of a team at some point in their lives, whether at work, school, sports, etc.  Each project team establishes its own culture. A project team's culture can be formed formally through project team norms or informally through project team members' attitudes and activities. The project team culture is influenced by the organization's culture, but also reflects the project team's unique working and social styles. 
In teams and team dynamics studies, cohesion has been a recurring theme. Team cohesiveness has been identified as a critical component in communication patterns and influencing behaviours across various groups, such as sports teams, work teams, exercise groups, therapy groups and task groups. There are still many individuals that have trouble working together as a team and forming cohesiveness. Even though team cohesiveness is a significant and determining factor in team performance, it will not guarantee success unless the organisation and management around a team are committed. Team members may feel linked to their coworkers yet be utterly unaware of company values and vice versa. A team's manager must ensure that this type of separation does not develop and discover ways to improve cohesion. Cohesion has been identified as one of the most important aspects determining team performance.
Developing a Team
In 1965, psychologist Bruce Tuckman proposed a hypothesis regarding new teams' steps to succeed and achieve healthy cohesiveness. Developing teams can take time, and the phases of building a team span from when team members are strangers to when they become a cohesive team with a common goal. Team development is an essential factor in creating a coherent team. When discussing a team, it seems contradictory to also talk about leadership. The leader of a team is responsible for putting together a team that can be cohesive and must go through the steps of team development to get there. The four typical stages of team development are forming, storming, norming and performing.  These steps in team development have been called „Tuckman Ladder“. 
The Stages of Team Development:
- Forming: Forming is the beginning stage where relationships among team members are formed. Everyone in the team is getting to know one other at this point, and team dynamics and responsibilities have yet to be developed. At this point, a team leader will typically emerge to take command and direct the individual members.  
- Storming: When team members begin fighting for position, stumbling from confusion, and having disputes regarding leadership, strategy, and goals, the storming stage is triggered. This is when the importance of team leadership becomes apparent. The leader must succeed in motivating the team, resolving all issues triggered, and articulating the team's purpose and objectives.
- Norming: Once the storming stage has been completed, a team will go into the norming stage. After overcoming the storming stage, the team is ready to develop open communications, stable positions, and norms. These are the initial steps toward belonging to a group. 
- Performing: Teams will go from norming to performing and then to highly performing after acquiring cohesion. The project team becomes more efficient in terms of operations. This is the stage where the project team has matured. Project teams that have worked together for a long time might generate a sense of synergy. Members of the project team achieve more and generate a higher-quality output when they collaborate.  Team leaders should allow the team to interact, celebrate, and unwind to make it simpler to develop genuine connections and maintain team cohesiveness when the going gets tough..
What Influences Team Cohesion?
Shared Goals and Like-Mindedness: The fact that team members share similar beliefs and attitudes is one of the factors that keeps the team together. People, on the whole, like to be in the company of those who share their values and perspectives. Therefore one of the variables that contribute to team cohesiveness is similarity. A cohesive group comprises people who have similar interests and aims but can come from different backgrounds. 
Size of a Team: Smaller teams have a higher level of cohesion than larger teams. There is more engagement and communication in smaller groups, which helps members remain bonded. The interaction may decrease in larger groups, making it more challenging to reach a consensus on many problems. In more significant groupings, smaller cliques may form inside the group, resulting in disputes and diluting the general aim. 
Time: A team's strength grows as it spends time together. The greater the bonds between members of a group, the better the teamwork. 
Threats and Competition: When a team faces obstacles together, it gets stronger. Members will put their differences aside and work together to solve a problem. 
Communication: Effective communication between the team and its members cannot be overstated. To conclude a disagreement, thoughts should be explicitly stated amongst team members. Any misunderstanding of language among individuals and groups can result in several problems. 
Trust: For a group to be cohesive, it must have a high level of trust and reliability. Individuals in a group must have faith in the team and its decisions to effect positive change. Trust unites the group and its members, allowing for unanimous decision making. 
Benefits and Drawbacks of Team Cohesiveness
Team cohesion, has both benefits and drawbacks. A team leader must understand their team's advantages and disadvantages and employ ways to increase team performance. 
- Increased Productivity: Productive and high-performing teams are more likely to be cohesive. 
- Enhanced Team Motivation: Being a part of a cohesive team boosts team motivation. Various opinions are held by different members, which serves as motivation. This also gives team members the confidence to express their views, which increases the overall team effort. 
- Improved Coordination: When the aims and preferences of group members are comparable, group cohesiveness improves in the delivery of better outputs and productivity. It comprises more excellent teamwork and collaboration among members. 
- Saves Effort and Time: Working in a cohesive team can be time-saving because a team that is not cohesive may take a bit longer to resolve difficulties, but when it comes to a cohesive team, the answer may be better and faster. 
- Better Job Satisfaction and Morale: Cohesive teams have higher job satisfaction and morale. 
- Improved Communication: Because a team works together under the direction of a team leader, there is a general improvement in communication levels. The engaging sessions assist people in making positive adjustments in all areas of their lives while also increasing their self-esteem. 
- Lack of Creativity: Because members of a cohesive team come from the same employment sector, their ideas may be too similar, limiting creativity. As a result of the group's cohesive behaviour, the organisation's creative elements may suffer. Additionally, all aspects of team cohesion contribute to a lower level of creativity in their group or team. 
- Lack of Innovation: A lack of innovation is associated with a lack of creativity. Because of this, the final result in terms of innovation may be unsatisfactory. 
- Domination: Because of team leaders in each group, dominance might occur. Most of these sorts of group leader dominance are never beneficial to the firm, and they can even harm the group's cohesiveness. As a result, all team leaders must recognise that if they need and want their team members to follow their instructions, they must treat them as equals in the group. 
When it comes to putting together successful, high-performing teams, cohesion is crucial. Project managers and team leaders may develop dynamic, high-performing, cohesive teams that exceed their standards by following Tuckman's steps for building teams. To achieve a firm foundation of infinite creativity, leaders must understand how team cohesion works and how bonding in a team will develop energy to strengthen the sense of belonging and mutual respect.  A team's atmosphere is determined by its managers and leaders. They must be able to tailor their leadership style to the requirements of all of their employees, not just those who share their beliefs and behaviours. Following the development of a team, which is one of the most critical processes, team managers must implement team building activities and assist the team in its development. A team manager must recognise factors that improve cohesiveness and methods used to measure cohesiveness in teams.  The following section discusses aspects that managers and team leaders should consider while building a team or leading an existing team. As well as the difficulties in measuring cohesion and the methods taken to overcome them.
How to Manage and improve Team Cohesion
Below are some factors and techniques a team manager can use to create and maintain a cohesive team:
Choose Team Members Carefully: The team manager should carefully choose team members. Despite the importance of diversity, a cohesive team usually operates when people with similar aims are brought together in a team. Not everyone can operate as a cohesive team, and the manager must choose team members that understand the aspects that contribute to the team's cohesiveness. 
Encourage Communication: Because a cohesive team relies on open communication, the team manager must encourage it among team members. Improved communication might be accomplished by ensuring that team members have the resources they need to interact effectively with one another. Online communication platforms, remote team software, regular meetings with open discussion, and other communication channels can help to improve team engagement. A team manager must be accessible to his team and address any concerns, ideas, and efforts that his team members have. 
Practice Team-building Activities: It's critical to concentrate on the team's objectives and the relationships among team members that help them achieve those objectives. Self-esteem and overall morale may be boosted through team-building exercises. Team-building events, such as monthly team trips, team games, and team lunches, might regularly be scheduled by the team manager. Those kinds of activities might help improve relationships among team members and the team manager. 
Define Goals: The team manager must ensure that each team member knows and understands their responsibilities and tasks for each objective. Team members must grasp the organisation's aims and values from the beginning of the team's formation to the end. There are several ways to organise goals, such as constructing a goal pyramid at various levels, such as individual and team goals, employing the SMART concept, or providing the team with tools and expertise to help them achieve their objectives. To guarantee that all team members have a common understanding of the team and its purpose and work, team managers should ask team members how they presently view the team and its aim and work. 
Promote Training and Development: Once a team has been formed, the team manager must provide training and development opportunities for his staff to keep the team functioning effectively. This might motivate team members to take charge of their abilities and capabilities. This will eventually aid in the improvement of their job and general contribution to the team. 
Celebrate Achievements as a Team: Instead of concentrating on an individual's accomplishment inside the team, managers should encourage teams to celebrate their triumphs together. Managers should congratulate their staff on their accomplishments and encourage and appreciate them for their efforts. 
Put an Emphasises on Trust: Team managers should provide a secure and trustworthy atmosphere where their team members may freely communicate their opinions and feelings. The ability of a team to function successfully together and cohesively is heavily reliant on trust. The team manager must set an example and be as open as possible with their employees to establish trust. Team members are more likely to lose trust and believe they can't interact securely and productively if the team manager keeps secrets or isn't honest and transparent. This might make team members feel like their team leader is too dominating and keeps them in the dark. 
Resolve Conflicts: Conflict occurs in every team. When disagreements emerge, the team manager should push the team to collaborate as quickly as possible to find a feasible solution. Encourage team members to collaborate on developing and implementing solutions and ensure they have the resources to resolve conflicts. 
Motivating Team Members: Leaders that understand what motivates others are better at leading teams. When project team members apply suitable leadership qualities, abilities, and attributes that meet the requirements and expectations of projects, project teams may thrive. Knowing how to connect with and encourage people, as well as how to take action when necessary, may help project teams perform better and overcome hurdles. 
Measuring Team Cohesion
Because cohesion is such an important factor in team success, there is a lot of interest in learning how to diagnose, monitor and improve it in practice. However, there is a lot of variability in how cohesiveness is conceived and measured, making it difficult to compare findings across research and, hence, limiting the capacity to practice. The term cohesiveness can be used in many domains, which can complicate research processes. Cohesion is likely to change over time and has individual and team components, so measuring cohesion at various levels can be difficult. Researchers interested in monitoring and measuring cohesion have faced vast, complicated literature and various measuring alternatives. 
A few challenges have been linked to when assessing cohesiveness:
1) First, self-reports used to evaluate cohesiveness are not always feasible. They are prone to difficulties that can compromise accuracy, particularly when it comes to how cohesion evolves. 
2) Second, depending on the stage of growth a team is in, some aspects of cohesiveness may be more important to measure. 
3) Third, a multilevel theory is critical for understanding team cohesiveness, although it is frequently misapplied to a temporal framework. 
4) Fourth, internal events inside a team, such as a member or task changes, might impact team cohesiveness, but this is seldom considered. 
5) Finally, external or organisational events outside the team may impact team cohesiveness, although they are rarely taken into account. 
To tackle these challenges, theoretical and practical suggestions for assessing team cohesion are the following:
- Using Unobtrusive Measures: This is a set of metrics for assessing cohesiveness over time. These sorts of measurements can enable the measurement of team cohesiveness without causing a team to be disrupted: big data, sociometric badges, physiological measures, content analysis, external observers and other methods. Big data can measure cohesion unobtrusively, especially for large corporations. Sociometric badges are tags to track team members' location, which can infer cohesiveness based on temporal presence and interaction length and frequency. Physiological measures such as eye gazing, physical gestures, and brainwave data, among other physiological indices of cooperation, such as cohesiveness, may be examined using algorithms developed from language style matching. 
- Using Social Network Analysis (SNA): SNA is a method for analysing data derived from behaviours, self-report assessments, and interpersonal interactions. It allows researchers to investigate individuals' relational links and the social network that comes from those ties, such as a group of people, a team, an organisation, or any other entity. When self-report surveys are used to assess team cohesiveness accurately, SNA is effective. 
- Study "Swift Cohesion": Cohesion is an emergent condition that takes time to develop. Henceforth, data suggests that cohesiveness measured later in a team's growth is a stronger predictor of performance than cohesion measured earlier. As a result, standard ways to measure cohesiveness in teams whose members spend a short period together may not be suitable since they will not necessarily have the opportunity to create cohesion. Swift cohesion might have significant ramifications for future research. It is based on the idea that, even if people don't have enough time to fully develop the specific dimensions of cohesion such as group pride, task cohesion, and social cohesion, they can rely on contextual information to quickly coordinate and communicate with other team members, simulating the same processes that cause cohesion to emerge naturally. People may, for example, rely on symbols to suggest a shared identity, such as a military uniform or badge that makes them feel like they belong to the same unit, which might activate the group pride component of cohesiveness. 
- Adopt an Event System Theory Framework (EST): When events occur, frequently irregularly, that may readily affect cohesiveness, static conceptualisations of cohesion are meaningless. When evaluating coherence, one approach to avoid this problem is to adopt an EST framework. By acknowledging that multiple events and processes occur, this method aims to close the gap that mainly ignores the dynamic transformations that teams go through. 
- Use Agent-based Modeling (ABM): ABM is an innovative technology that uses computational algorithms to replicate human behaviour in various circumstances and environments. ABM is beneficial in modelling cooperation. Researchers and programmers may use ABM to model simulated environmental conditions and unit-level features and see how these impact team operations and behaviours in complicated ways. 
Limitations and Conclusion
Teams change and adapt during the course of their existence. Several ideas have been proposed in an attempt to define the various stages that teams go through throughout time. This is crucial because, depending on the period or phase of growth, the development of cohesiveness may differ. 
Cohesiveness in teams is becoming increasingly crucial in boosting knowledge, morale, and creativity as firms strive to obtain a competitive advantage. They bring a diverse range of abilities and information together, allowing for convergent and divergent thinking, the cornerstones of creativity and knowledge acquisition. By offering support and encouragement, they may also positively influence and boost morale for overworked or underskilled team members. Individuals who do not experience a sense of belonging to their team are less driven and less inclined to participate in the "teaming" activities that enable teams to accomplish their many positive outcomes. 
Given the importance of cohesiveness to a team's and organisation's success, accurate measurement of this construct is critical; nevertheless, precise measurement is difficult due to various problems. Several constraints might develop when assessing team cohesiveness since cohesion can alter over time, methodologies may be ineffective, and internal and external events may be overlooked. Even though there has been tremendous progress over time, more rigorous measures are required. Even though team cohesiveness has long been recognised as an important aspect of team success, now it may be more critical than ever. 
The following resources are the key resources used for this article and can provide the basis for further and deeper studies on the topic.
McClurg, C.E., Chen, J.L., Petruzzelli, A. and Thayer, A.L. (2017), "Challenges and New Directions in Examining Team Cohesion Over Time", Team Dynamics Over Time (Research on Managing Groups and Teams, Vol. 18)
- The chapter used in the creation of this article is from the book : Team Dynamics Over Time. The chapter examines the difficulties of measuring cohesiveness through time and offers advice on how to approach these concerns in future research. The chapter also looked at the literature on team cohesion and development, including definitions and conceptualizations of cohesion as well as the foundational taxonomies for team development.
Grossman, R., Rosch, Z., Mazer, D. and Salas, E. (2015), "What Matters for Team Cohesion Measurement? A Synthesis", Team Cohesion: Advances in Psychological Theory, Methods and Practice (Research on Managing Groups and Teams, Vol. 17):
- This journal article examines the literature on cohesion measurement, looks at new measurement methods, and offers theoretical and practical ideas for improving cohesion measurement. The researchers gave ideas and possible solutions to guide future efforts and assist the field converge toward more consistency in evaluating cohesiveness in the study, which analyzed correlations with performance and culminated existing trends.
Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI). (2021). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK ® Guide) – 7th Edition and The Standard for Project Management. Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI).
- The PMBOK® Guide is the standard reference for project managers. The guide reviews growing technologies, new methodologies, quick market developments and how the project management profession has developed dramatically. The guide covers a wide range of development methods and development strategies as well as an enhanced collection of models, methods, and artefacts.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Team Cohesion: The strength and extent of interpersonal connection among the members of a group. (n.d.). Corporate Finance Institute. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/careers/soft-skills/team-cohesion/
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Druskat, V. and Wolff, S (2001).Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups, Harvard Business Review, pages 82, 83 and 85.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Molnau, D. (n.d.). HIGH-PERFORMANCE TEAMS: UNDERSTANDING TEAM COHESIVENESS. iSixSigma. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.isixsigma.com/implementation/teams/high-performance-teams-understanding-team-cohesiveness/
- ↑ Dyaram, L., & Kamalanabhan, T. J. (2005). Unearthed: The Other Side of Group Cohesiveness. Journal of Social Sciences, 185–190. https://doi.org/10.1080/09718923.2005.11892479
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Grossman, R., Rosch, Z., Mazer, D. and Salas, E. (2015), "What Matters for Team Cohesion Measurement? A Synthesis", Team Cohesion: Advances in Psychological Theory, Methods and Practice (Research on Managing Groups and Teams, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 147-180. Retrieved February 26, 2022 from https://doi.org/10.1108/S1534-085620150000017007
- ↑ Cohesiveness. (n.d.). Dictionary.Com. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/cohesiveness
- ↑ Beam, M. (2012, July). Emotional Intelligence and Team Cohesiveness [Thesis, Marshall University]. Retrivied February 13, 2022 from https://mds.marshall.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1304&context=etd
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Howard, S. (n.d.). Improve team cohesion in the workplace. The Predictive Index. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.predictiveindex.com/blog/how-to-increase-team-cohesion/
- ↑ Salas, E., Dickinson, T. L., Converse, S. A., & Tannenbaum, S. I. (1992). Toward an understanding of team performance and training. In R. W. Swezey & E. Salas (Eds.), Teams: Their training and performance (pp. 329). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI). (2021). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK ® Guide) – 7th Edition and The Standard for Project Management. Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI). Retrieved February 18, 2022 from https://app.knovel.com/hotlink/toc/id:kpSPMAGPMP/guide-project-management/guide-project-management
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Group Cohesiveness. (n.d.). Toppr. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.toppr.com/guides/fundamentals-of-economics-and-management/group-dynamics/group-cohesiveness/
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 12.8 12.9 Reddry, C. (n.d.). Group Cohesiveness: Factors, Advantages and Disadvantages. Wisestep. Retrieved February 15, 2022, from https://content.wisestep.com/group-cohesiveness-factors-importance-advantages-disadvantages/
- ↑ Throness, S. (2021, November 15). HIGH PERFORMANCE TEAMS: HOW TO CREATE TEAM COHESIVENESS. GETTING PEOPLE RIGHT. Retrieved February 16, 2021, from https://gettingpeopleright.com/resources/high-performance-teams-how-to-create-team-cohesiveness/
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 Editorial Team. (2021, March 3). 10 Steps To Improve Team Cohesiveness in the Workplace. Indeed. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/team-cohesiveness
- ↑ 15.00 15.01 15.02 15.03 15.04 15.05 15.06 15.07 15.08 15.09 15.10 15.11 McClurg, C.E., Chen, J.L., Petruzzelli, A. and Thayer, A.L. (2017), "Challenges and New Directions in Examining Team Cohesion Over Time", Team Dynamics Over Time (Research on Managing Groups and Teams, Vol. 18), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 261-286. Retrieved February 20, 2022 from: https://doi.org/10.1108/S1534-085620160000018011
- ↑ C. E. McClurg, J.L. Chen, A. Petruzzelli, A. L. Thayer, "Challenges and New Directions in Examining Team Cohesion Over Time" In Team Dynamics Over Time. Published online: 07 Aug 2017; 261-286. Retrieved February 26, 2022 from: https://doi.org/10.1108/S1534-085620160000018011