“Successful teams are all alike; every unsuccessful team is unsuccessful in its own way.”
This line modified for business contexts, from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, utters a simple yet poignant truth in the business world. When we look at how successful teams operate, they all have some basic things in common — their team members seem to come together, despite different backgrounds, skill sets, and personalities, to operate in concert with little conflict, are supportive of each other, and successfully achieve the common goal. They have, in other words, strong team chemistry.
Unsuccessful teams or teams lacking Team Chemistry, on the other hand, tend to deteriorate at various seams and display a variety of big and small issues — Some teams made up of talented problem solvers cannot innovate, while other teams tasked with carefully planned Transformation projects cannot successfully implement change or achieve higher productivity. More than 80% of mergers and acquisitions between two teams fail to achieve greater results as a combined unit. Even more mysteriously, in some teams, employees deemed as ‘Average’ or ‘Below Average’ leave the team, or are terminated by the manager seeking to drive greater productivity, and the performance of the remaining team sinks lower and crumbles completely.
Unsuccessful teams, or teams lacking team chemistry, on the other hand tend to deteriorate at various seams and display a variety of big and small issues
So what is this ‘Chemistry’ and how can leaders harness this to achieve results?
Managers and leaders have long addressed the issues faced by unsuccessful teams, by seeking to correct the symptom that is displayed, such as improve likelihood of project success by implementing Change Management tools like OCM, or conduct an Employee Engagement surveys to help stem the attrition of talented employees, or enhance innovation through collaboration/communication software.
Unfortunately very few of these tools have a lasting sustainable impact on team performance, mainly because they only focus on one of the many possible symptoms of the team malaise — without addressing the main root cause, i.e. Lack of Team Chemistry.
Team Chemistry has long been argued as the main responsibility of a sports team coach and is often the driver behind a variety of the coach’s decisions, such as whom to name as Team Captain, or which players to recruit. Successful coaches make team chemistry a priority and make decisions to enhance the chemistry, resulting in their teams being more focused on operating as a single unit, vs. a group of individuals with disparate priorities.
How is Team Chemistry measured?
Business leaders also face similar decisions in managing teams, yet Team Chemistry is rarely looked at as a priority for the manager. All too often the leaders and related business tools are focused on individual development and contribution, with few, if any, tools around team behavior or team chemistry. Furthermore, team chemistry is often confused with Company Culture. While Company Culture defines the environment that employees work in through specific policies, company mission, value statement, etc., Team Chemistry is driven by interactions amongst the employees and relationships they foster with each other. These relationships influence how employees act and react to change, where they seek information or advice when facing challenges, or simply how a team gets its day-to-day tasks done.
Team Chemistry is driven by interactions amongst the employees and relationships they foster with each other.
What are some actionable next steps to enhance Team Chemistry?
As with any scientific analysis, team chemistry can be managed through a customizable recipe for each team. The ingredients (i.e. employee skills) follow a specific order and methodology to mix together (i.e. Company culture) which then form specific bonds (i.e. Employee relationships) to deliver the results. While several tools in the market will help managers identify and measure employee skills and personality traits, or understand and track Company Culture, OrgAnalytix is the only tool in the market that focuses on Employee Relationships and applies two layers of algorithms to the relationship data to extract tangible Team Chemistry diagnostics and analysis.
OrgAnalytix gathers data via a 5-minute 6 question survey of the employees within a company. This questionnaire is focused on very specific interactions and scenarios and asks very simple non-invasive questions, and responses to which are then collated and visually displayed as a chemistry map of the organization. OrgAnalytix and business leaders can then use the maps and the automated metrics to analyze the relationships and interactions that employees have with each other and identify leading and lagging indicators on behavior, or the root causes behind team performance.
Like any recipe, the next steps for each organization differs based on their specific formula — while some may be missing key ingredients (skill sets and roles), others may need to change the way the employees mix together (Company Culture and policies). Still, others may have a well balanced successful team seeking to grow exponentially, hence needs to capture the formula currently in place to ensure team chemistry doesn’t deteriorate. OrgAnalytix tool provides leaders a holistic view and transparency into the root cause of team dynamics, and the ability to address any gaps or concerns in a timely and precise manner.
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