If you think back to Chemistry 101, you may remember a property called cohesion or cohesive attraction. Basically, it is a force by which like molecules stick together to create a united mass. A water drop is a great example of this effect. The similar polarity and structure of the like molecules create an electrical attraction that causes them to come together to function as a whole.
The idea of cohesive attraction can also be applied to an office or company setting. Group cohesion is achieved when a team of people work together in such an optimal way that they function as a unit. But, unlike the similar water molecules, a company is made up of different people from diverse backgrounds with unique attitudes, opinions, and beliefs. So, how do you as an employer encourage them to form the kind of bonds necessary to achieve group cohesion? It’s difficult to understand how well a group of employees are or are not interacting with each other by simple observation. And on a larger scale, you must know how to identify the problems that must be addressed to help increase cohesiveness, before it explodes like an experiment gone bad.
There are both internal and external factors that affect group cohesion. First, do your employees have a sense of belonging to a community? Do they feel like they are part of a group, or are they each looking out only for themselves? Group activities that promote social interaction set the stage for coworkers to find similarities within one another, which is the first step towards group cohesion.
Entry into a group is known to be a difficult task. As an example, universities and sports teams take special care to promote unity among students and athletes because of the known barriers to group entry. If it was hard for them to get on the team, then it follows that the people on the team are the best of the best. They will each step up their game to prove and maintain that level of prestige. Do your employees feel like they were each chosen for their position because of their unique talents? Or, do they feel like their coworkers could be anyone off the street?
Next, a cohesive unit must be united by a common goal. Is everyone in your organization clear about and focused on the company’s goals? Or are they each more concerned with their own personal goals apart from the company? Also important for cohesion is the idea of collective effort. Do your employees feel interdependence or a sense of responsibility for one another? Or is, “that’s not my job,” the overwhelming attitude in your office?
Finally, a group will function better with the incentive of a collective reward. Do they feel like they will each be compensated for a job done well? Or, do they feel like the higher-ups collect all the fruit of their labor while they receive no reward?
Surveys are a great tool companies use to answer all of these questions and many more to evaluate group cohesion, satisfaction, engagement, and many other topics. We recommend deploying employee engagement surveys to your workforce to set baseline scores. Then, resurvey periodically to gauge the effectiveness of your improvement initiatives. Contact us today to improve your company’s cohesive attraction and your bottom line.