Make Team Cohesion a Strategic Priority

Make Team Cohesion a Strategic Priority

One of the top priorities for leaders post-COVID is to build teams that work well together to drive strategy forward. Sounds like a no brainer, right? Great strategy and great teams have always been a business goal. But the truth is, they haven’t always been the norm. 

In the past, you might have skated when it came to building your team and sharing your strategy. When each day was pretty similar to the one before it, history was a good predictor of the future; when your team had been together for a while, things worked smoothly. Perhaps two years ago, having a strategy that was clearly understood by a strong team didn’t feel that urgent. But in this Next Normal, leaders need to excel with both a clear strategy and a cohesive team. In fact, you can’t have one without the other. Here’s why. 

First, there are a lot of newly formed teams out there as compared to 18 months ago. Some because of layoffs, furloughs or necessary restructurings. Others from turnover in people moving on or opting out. And it seems most of us are having a hard time filling open positions in this competitive recruiting environment. Whatever the reason, teams are in flux. This presents a challenge when it comes to sharing strategy and translating that to your team. Both strategy and your team are moving targets.

Then there’s the reality that even intact teams aren’t “together” in the same way as in the past. Most of us have had to adapt to remote work, and for many, that’s been a positive development. But remote work has made it challenging to integrate new members and coalesce as a team. In the past, leadership has relied on retreats and in-person meetings to set strategy and align team goals. This is harder to do in a virtual environment and many leaders haven’t made this a priority.  

Another thing that indicates the need to bring strategy and people together is that we’re still navigating through uncertainty. Are you feeling stuck? Have you been less decisive in the last year? If so, join the club. However, there’s a downside to treading water while you wait for the “right time” to work on strategy. It’s nearly impossible for people to perform well in their individual roles let alone as a team when they don’t have a clear direction. 

And finally, there’s this alarming statistic: In a McKinsey survey of 65,000 North American workers, 42% of women and 35% of men reported feeling burned out often or almost always in 2021. Prolonged stress from living and working through the pandemic has taken its toll on us as individuals, but it is no longer an individual problem. It’s a business issue that needs organizational attention and solutions.  

All of these challenges point to making team cohesion a strategic priority. If you want to build momentum for 2022, involve your team in a strategy process. Use your strategy discussions as a focal point for people to rally around. They’ll be more engaged with plans, aligned with each other, and motivated collectively to hit the ground running in the new year.