Team Work Makes the Dream Work

May 22, 2017 Author: Noelle Menendez, M.A.

Lack of collaboration is killing your business. There is an imbalance between how much managers say they value collaboration and the actual amount of collaboration. While 75% of leaders rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important”(2), only 56% of surveyed employees felt that their organization collaborated enough1. Additionally, only 18% of employees are actually evaluated on their communication skills during performance reviews(2).

Businesses rely on interdisciplinary work groups to execute projects, operations, and generate the next break-through idea. A cohesive, collaborative team is essential for project success, but the organization must have appropriate “systems and practices” in place to connect, support, and reward groups and individuals.(3). Research has revealed that cohesive groups not only outperform non-cohesive groups, but also have higher occupational and personal life satisfaction(4). There are huge benefits to establishing the business practices that support and reward collaboration – but how do you establish them?

There are a multitude of factors that impact and influence an organization’s cohesion and collaboration such as the group’s norms, culture, development, individual personalities and roles, and productivity. Researchers Sanchez and Yurrebaso (2009) found that the more [a group] shared actual behavioral norms, the more they shared ideal behavioral norms. (p.102) Due to this relationship there was less of a gap between the actual and ideal behavioral norms thus revealing greater group cohesion. What are your organizations behavioral norms or values?

Employees rated “positive recognition of the input I share” (50%)(1) as the highest motivator for collaborating with coworkers and “encouragement of senior staff” (41%)(1) as the runner up. How might you, your employees, or your coworkers rate your organization’s communication or fostering of collaborative efforts?

Here’s an example of what team work or collaboration should look like if your department or team has a sales pitch project to complete. In a typical brainstorming session, when only one member can speak at a time with in the group, many individuals suffer from “production blocking”(3) because they are distracted from their own ideas, forget their own ideas because it is not their turn to speak, or one neglects to speak up as to not follow up after another’s proposal. Thus, it’s recommended to brainstorm individually before coming together for that first team meeting. This procedure diminishes production blocking because generating initial ideas are best done alone. Then, during the group meeting, all team members act together in evaluating and choosing amongst ideas. With this method, members will feel as though their ideas are being heard, that they in some way can contribute to the task at hand’s outcome and are identified in doing so, and that the task is meaningful(3). Senior leaders/staff members have the responsibility of putting these parts into motion in order to promote effective communication and synergy.

For managers or business owners, if you are encouraging collaboration amongst your employees that means you are right there in the mix. Arrange for regular check-ins and benchmark visits with your teams so that communication channels are reiterated and individual efforts can be assessed. Consider implementing a communication and collaboration measure within performance reviews. You might have the team or department write their own performance appraisal to use as a whole. A team designed performance review would ensure knowledge of how exactly one would be evaluated. Having contributed to the creation process, employees will have a greater buy in and would more likely strive, if not go above and beyond, the standard. Set the example beforehand and let your collaborative, cohesive teams run with it.

If you want to learn more about how you can increase work performance outcomes through team cohesion and collaboration feel free to reach out to HigherEchelon for more specific ideas.


  1. “Cornerstone OnDemand’s The State of Workplace Productivity Report”: Conducted by Kelton, August, 2012

  2. Infographic – Communicating in the Modern Workplace: available Queens University of Charlotte

  3. “Group Performance and Intergroup Relations in Organizations,” Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Richard A. Guzzo and Gregory P. Shea

  4. “Group cohesion: Relationships with work team culture,” Psicothema, Jose C. Sanchez and Amaia Yurrebaso, 2009.