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Measuring Team Unity

Karla hated her job. It wasn’t that she hated the work. She loved working with people and helping them with their health problems. She’d spent a lot of time and money to gain the skills she needed to do her job. It wasn’t the job. It was her coworkers that were the problem. They all seemed nice on the surface but when it came time to work with any of them, she felt alienated. It seemed like everyone had their own agenda. They didn’t really care about her work, unless it helped them in some way. There was an underlying competitiveness that she could feel all around her. It seemed like everyone’s focus was on their own career and how they might win the next promotion. Even her supervisor seems to only care about her work in relation to how it made him look to his managers. She wondered, if this was how it was going to be for the rest of her career? Did work really have to feel this way?

A unified team is something that every good leader hopes for in their organization. Team unity is often the difference between a great place to work and miserable job. Any one who has worked with an ununified team can testify to the fact that it was a difficult experience. Some companies that recognize the importance of team unity spend considerable time and money to develop unity in the workplace. But what does team unity really mean? Is it something that can be measured?

Unity is a somewhat complex team issue. It is like a team can just decide to be unified. Unity isn’t so much a decision as it is a feeling. It is a feeling that must be universal among team members for it really to take shape in the workplace. While unity may not be a decision, it is the result of many other decisions. These other decisions are what really drives the unified feelings of the team. If unity is a feeling how can it be measured?

One simple way of measuring team unity can be found in an escape room experience. It was something that we observed in almost every group that came to Mystery Escape room for a team activity. We noticed it right away and we believe it is one of the key ingredients that make escape room experiences so enjoyable.

During an escape room experience, participants work with each other to solve complex puzzles and solve mysteries. They must do this in an enclosed environment with a time limit. The story is usually something bad will happen, if the participants don’t solve the mystery before time runs out. The bad thing is, of course, not real, so it isn’t like a true life or death situation, but rather a simulated experience. However, the common goal for the group to escape the simulated bad experience has a profound unifying effect on the group members, causing them, for a moment, to forget outside influences.

When we gather after the experience for a team debriefing and talk about the experience. I ask them about how they felt in the experience. They almost always say the high-light of the experience was the energy they felt in the room whenever something was solved. They loved the shared excitement of each step forward in the room. I then ask them, “Did it matter who solved it?” This is an insightful moment for the group as they realized that it didn’t matter at all who solved a riddle or puzzle. They genuinely were as excited for the puzzle to be solved as they would be, if they had done it themselves.

You can tell, if you have a unified team, when every team member is as excited for the success of any individual team member as they would be for their own success. It shows a true level of team unity and is the best way to measure unity among your teams.

For more information about team unity and our research into team behavior contact Les Pardew

To schedule a team building activity go to

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