Team cohesion goes hand in hand with team bonding. In fact, team cohesion is what keeps any group or team together after the team bonding exercise is over. In this regard then, team cohesion is about maintaining the team bonding effect and preventing group fragmentation.
Any good team bonding activities should include common goals and purpose to ensure that team cohesion is in place in the future; if there is a common goal, there will be team cohesion. This is evident in extreme cases such as war, with a common enemy people team together and the cohesion is strengthened by the common goal. At a less extreme level, team cohesion is evident in a well run restaurant. The chef will communicate well with the maitre de, who will then communication with the wait staff. If the communication cycle breaks down then team cohesion is lost.
The restaurant comparison is actually a great team bonding activity. Managers can set up a scenario where the effects of good communication can be witnessed and team cohesion can be pinpointed to the moments it breaks down. Group charity drives are also excellent team bonding activities; remember that team cohesion begins after team bonding has taken place.
No matter how well the team bonding and team cohesion is established it must be constantly supported by management; this is especially true of middle management. Even with a common staff goal, if management seems to be disconnected or preferential then the team bonding holds no power and thus team cohesion suffers. It is vital then that in any team bonding exercises or team bonding activities management is seen to take part and to be an actual link in the cohesion chain.
Another situation where team cohesion can breakdown is where individual employees are singled out for praise. This is an essential element for the success of the employee; however, management must always include team praise as well. This collective praise brings the team together in a good way, so team bonding strengthens, and we have team cohesion. This moment is fragile and management must always be vigilant to strengthen the team bonding until it can stand alone.
Often, staffing is seen as burden in terms of cost and in terms of management however, without staff business would not survive. It is therefore vital that team bonding exercises are regular events and that post team bonding activities support is in place; this is the strengthening of team cohesion.