5 Ways to Create a Tight-Knit Team

Noelle Ihli

6 Ways to Create a Tight-Knit Team

Culture Code Author Daniel Croyle Shares Strategies to Build a Cohesive Team

A tight-knit team is every good manager’s goal. However, the work of creating such a team isn’t always straightforward. 

According to Daniel Croyle, author of Culture Code, the secret to a cohesive team is a sense of belonging. Each member should feel like they are part of a completed puzzle of interlocking parts, not a box of individual pieces. 

So, how do you put the puzzle together? Croyle says, “Belonging … can’t be reduced to an isolated moment but rather consists of a steady pulse of interactions within a social relationship.” 

Keep reading to learn six strategies to build belonging and bring your team together.

6 Strategies for Building Cohesion

According to Croyle, leaders who want to build cohesive teams should use these six strategies: 

  1. Listen Actively

Connected teams listen to each other, using physical and vocal cues (like nodding or affirmative phrases such as“Oh, I see”) to build respect and encourage vulnerability. Active listening signals to others that their time and ideas are valuable and worth consideration.  

  1. Model Fallibility

Croyle says, “Vulnerability doesn’t come after trust—it precedes it.” He encourages leaders to share struggles, admit mistakes, and own up to gaps in knowledge or experience. This behavior shows team members that others will meet their vulnerability with empathy.

  1. Offer Praise and Gratitude

Some leaders are leery of offering too much praise, but Croyle has found that sincere, positive feedback and gratitude help employees feel connected and safe. He says, “Thank-yous aren’t only expressions of gratitude; they’re crucial belonging cues that generate a contagious sense of safety, connection, and motivation.”

  1. Hire Carefully

Croyle cautions against rapid-fire hiring, noting, "Deciding who’s in and who’s out is the most powerful signal any group sends, and successful groups approach their hiring accordingly.” Do your due diligence to hire individuals who will enhance the team’s culture and ability to succeed. This extra step signals safety and care for the group as a whole.

  1. Prioritize Group Interactions

Team-building activities can easily fall by the wayside in a busy work environment. That’s why it’s crucial to put pockets of non-work-related interactions among peers on the calendar. The resulting empathy and interpersonal connections are priceless in building a tight-knit team.

  1. Share the Mic

Help team members see a shared future and the value of their contributions by giving everyone a chance to offer solutions and insights—an open call for feedback signals that everyone has something important to add to the conversation. 

The 3 Pillars of Belonging

Croyle’s six strategies will help you develop team cohesion, but only if they’re grounded in the three pillars of belonging:


Team members can’t work together closely and effectively in an unsafe environment. It’s human nature to pull away from danger. Croyle says, “Cohesion happens not when members of a group are smarter but when they are lit up by clear, steady signals of safe connection.”

Leaders can create this safe connection by accepting critical feedback respectfully, allowing team members to get vulnerable about mistakes or struggles without reprisal, and fostering open lines of transparent, honest communication.  


In a complete puzzle, the pieces interlock. Team members need regular opportunities to learn about one another, talk to each other, share experiences, and build common ground. When employees get to know each other personally, they feel more like family and less like isolated individuals. 

As in a real family, this bond keeps team members showing up, supporting each other, and working together—instead of scattering—when challenges and conflicts arise. 

Shared Future

Team members need to know that their work directly impacts the group’s future success—and that the group’s future success benefits them. 

This “we’re all in it together” attitude helps inspire individuals to rally around a shared mission or objective. Each person understands that their entire effort is required to achieve success—and that such success comes with professional development, personal growth, or other rewards.   

Where does your team shine when it comes to building belonging? Share an example of how you’re growing connection, safety, or shared future on Twitter using #CultureCode.

About the author

Noelle is a content creator, author, and editor. She lives in Idaho with her husband, two sons, and two cats. When she's not writing, she's either reading a good book or scaring herself with true-crime documentaries.

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