We recently worked with a senior team which had a new leader. The fact that the leaders working style was very different from the previous leader and the added fact that nearly half of the members were new to the team, made it necessary for the team to get into an offsite \u2013 to try and construct a cohesive team identity.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nConstructing an identity for a team \u2013 is never something that happens overnight or in a two day workshop. It is always the result of the members of the team making a deliberate effort and showing deliberate intent in making it work.\r\n\r\nSeen through the lens of a theoretical construct like Bruce Tuckmans team building model, it is always a journey \u2013 from Forming to Storming to Norming to Performing. And like every journey has its highs and lows, so does this journey. Its definitely not easy \u2013 which is why there are so few great teams - but if the members of a team show sufficient resolve to grit it out and work through the tough phases \u2013 the reward of being a part of a high performing team can be very satisfying.\r\n\r\nSeen in another way, making a team into a high performing one is very much akin to the ingredients that go into a successful and happy marriage. Not always hunky dory \u2013 but where the partners have shown sufficient patience and belief, in trying to work through the differences.\r\n\r\nIf you leading a team and are trying to mould it into a cohesive unit, here are a few things that you need to keep sight of:\r\n\r\n1) Role & Expectation clarity\r\n\r\nEach person in a corporate team generally carries a designation that denotes his area of responsibility. However, the scope of the work within that area \u2013 and the expectations that different team members have of each other, can vary vastly as per individual interpretations. Having proactive one-on-one interactions to clarify and sign-off on expectations is a major step towards team alignment. Many a marriage has been saved by such simple sign-offs and understanding: I do the dishes \u2013 you take care of the baby.\r\n\r\n2) Rules of Engagement\r\n\r\nIn many teams we see \u2013 the intentions are always noble. For example: saying \u2013 we will respect each others time \u2013 is a noble thought. However, if this is not converted into actionable behaviors that someone can track, it unfortunately remains just that \u2013 only a noble intention. Soon, when the pressure of day to day business catches on, these niceties are often forgotten. Hence \u2013 it is very important to convert an intent into actionable and trackable behaviors. Hence the intent described above can be broken down into a few behaviors:\r\n\r\n\tWe shall ensure that all meetings start and end on time\r\n\tWe shall not schedule meetings on holidays or next to holidays\r\n\tWe shall not send an email on a weekend and expect an immediate reply\r\n\r\nIntent - to be effective in a team context \u2013 needs to be converted into rules of engagement that every member of the team signs in to.\r\n\r\n3) Knowing each other better\r\n\r\nIt is called the fundamental attribution error. \u201cIf I make an error \u2013 it\u2019s a mistake. If you make an error \u2013 its bad intent.\u201d The one way to get over this as a team is to know each other better in a deeper meaningful sort of way. If I know where you come from, your personal history, your deepest values and influences, your challenges and fears, your hopes for the future \u2013 there is a much better chance that I will trust you as an individual. The more I know you \u2013 the better I trust you.\r\n\r\nTeams at times find such sharing very difficult \u2013 and \u201ctouchy-feely\u201d. The use of a skilled Facilitator at such times can often help smoothen the conversations. Another good way to do this is by using psychometric tools like the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator, aided by a certified professional.\r\n\r\n4) Shared Aspiration & Pride\r\n\r\nVery often what brings teams very close to each other is a shared but over-arching goal that everyone wants to achieve together as a team. Many such stories are today the stuff of legends that come alive in our movies like Lagaan, Apollo 13, Chak De & many more.\r\n\r\nWhat is true in these movies is equally true for every other team too \u2013 regardless of whether it\u2019s a sports team or a corporate team or even a family. Hence, it is very important for a leader to tap into the shared aspirations of his team and define as clearly as possible, what is the shared aspiration of the team as a whole. Leaders in particular should be particularly wary not to impose solely their thoughts on their constituents, because finally what people don\u2019t buy-in to, they will not commit to.\r\n\r\nOne final point on this is \u2013 for the leader to ensure that what gets finally defined as a shared aspiration or goal for the team is something that will evoke pride in its members on successful achievement. Other than being S.M.A.R.T, the goal needs to inspire.\r\n\r\n5) Shared memories & Team stories\r\n\r\nThink about it \u2013 when someone asks you about your best moments in a relationship, what do you recall? It is always the memory of a holiday well spent, an adventure jointly taken or something achieved together as a team.\r\n\r\nBut memories and team stories do not happen by accident. It happens by showing intent. So that offsite that you are planning for your team is not just a distraction, it is a meaningful investment in trying to get your team closer together. Investing in conducting an engaging and fun intervention for your team at such offsites is again not a luxury \u2013 but a necessity, if you consider team cohesiveness as an essential ingredient to market success.\r\n\r\n6) Symbols, Names, Logos\r\n\r\nIt is not just an accident that all very cohesive teams in organizations \u2013 like the armed forces, sports teams, hospitals and even some corporates \u2013 wear an uniform.\r\n\r\nAs Seth Godin, argues in his book Tribes - \u00a0human beings have a need to belong, "to be part of a tribe\u201d. Symbols, team names and logos help give teams a tangible identity to which they \u201cbelong\u201d. A few other ideas that can easily be actioned by leaders trying to create a tangible team identity is to come out with a team mascot, team color, team slogan, team song, team cheer, team rituals, team newsletter, team T-shirt or even a team greeting.\r\n\r\nIt is not easy. It takes conscious and relentless effort \u2013 but if a team is intent on becoming more cohesive and aligned, I guess it will take the effort to make it work. As I said, it is like a marriage \u2013 if you think it is worth it, you will put in all the efforts to make it exciting, alive and meaningful for both of you.\r\n\r\nIs your team taking this journey too? Do share your experiences.