Work Culture

How to Build and Maintain Team Synergy

By on July 19, 2022

Synergy means a lot more than ‘working together’ in modern organizational theory. It is a combination of common values and interests and helps people work together as a team. These teams drive growth by working together, where employee engagement is high, and the leadership promotes and fosters innovation that leads to breakthroughs. But what is team synergy? What does it look like in practice? how can it be replicated across an organization?

What is team synergy?

By definition, synergy means ‘The whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.’ A team with synergy is more likely to produce better results than all the individual contributors combined and that of other (non-synergized) teams. Establishing synergy depends on plenty of factors, but at the core of it – the synergy is about connecting the right individuals to kickstart the momentum and providing the right environment, tools, and leadership to keep it going.

Where team synergy begins

Team development and team synergy are entirely different things: In team development, managers and mentors are responsible for getting everyone up to speed and performing to their best. Synergy, on the other hand, is helping individuals work together so well that they perform better than they could as individuals. This happens only when there is some thought behind the group composition, their understanding of the goal that needs to be achieved, clearly established roles and responsibilities etc.

  • Building the right team is essential to having synergy. When the expertise and talents of team members are complementary, the team as a whole performs better. Having a mix of individuals with different viewpoints also helps the team stay focused on the end results and help with production. With administrators that understand guidelines, it is easy to get the most creative employees who think big and organizational employees who can implement work efficiently.
  • Building the team right requires managers to empower and guide the team. In order for a team to perform synergistically, a manager or team lead has to maintain the environment with the right tools and tech. They can coach whenever necessary, hold individual sessions so that every team member is on the same page, and step back and let their team perform – as and when needed.
  • Providing clarity to team members about their own functions as well as the functions of the other members is essential for synergy. With this, everyone knows about the schedule and scope of other members and saves time and energy of everyone.

Positive synergy vs. negative synergy

The idea of ‘greater than parts’ is quite enchanting, and organizations try to achieve positive synergy or strategic fit in multiple ways: Commonly, this is done by combining multiple products, markets, or business verticals. This increases the synergy of the sales department – where one sales representative can offer a broader mix of products instead of multiple sales personnel trying to advertise different products under different branches. 

Sometimes, good intentions do fall flat, and organizations fall victim to negative synergy, with downsizing being a prime example. While the intended result of business decisions is positive synergy, not understanding the need for harmony or coordination can lead to negative synergy. 

What are examples of synergy?

On a corporate scale, mergers and acquisitions are one of the finest examples of corporates seeking synergy. By buying or teaming up with complementary organizations, the offerings on the product/services line would be substantial and complement the products and services already in the market. Also, as organizations evolve their practices, the expected increase in synergy has become significant too. 

How does synergy relate to teamwork?

In recent history, the term Synergy has been overwhelmingly used in the case of mergers and acquisitions. This makes sense, too, as people can see entities from two different directions coming together – and creating more value than they could individually. According to its definition, synergy describes a way to produce great results with great teamwork. There can be many signs of synergy being present in the new combined entity – it can be because of the savings in cost by combining operational efficiencies, better and productive use of assets, or something else. Shared Information Technology and/or supply chain, for example, can give exclusive access to logistics and IT know-how. Improvement in sales, marketing, research, and development can be credited to the synergy of the new unit, where teams work together to understand processes and adopt the best ones as their own. 

There are many ways in which synergy helps an organization: by creating better effects and results, providing better solutions to problems, and enabling everyone in the organization to understand and strive towards the organizational vision and mission.

Building team synergy

Building team synergy takes time and effort, like all interpersonal skills. With little effort, people can get better at communicating their needs and wants to their team members while providing the same back whenever required. Here are a few ways where managers can simplify their team’s workings to foster synergy.

Start with communication

Effective workplace communication is the core of any strong team, but for this to happen – team members need to feel comfortable expressing themselves. When the environment is safe for them to express freely and accurately, synergy can be achieved effortlessly. 

Establish a communication guideline

Good workplace communication skills require a proper guideline that is tailored to the team in question. By understanding team members’ strengths and preferences of team members, Managers can chart a communication framework that establishes channels the team should communicate on and about what. This framework should also make avenues for two-way communication. because listening to the ideas of team members instead of just trying to put individual’s ideas is a part of being a collaborative team member. 

Promote active listening

Managers can instill a practice of active listening and help their team members differentiate between facts and stories. observable details like the agenda of the meeting is a fact, while the final outcome of the meeting – if it isn’t written down – ends up being a story that might mislead a team.

Foster trust and collaboration

Team members need to feel comfortable to communicate effectively, in addition to knowing how to communicate. Managers can foster collaboration within their team by inviting co-creation. Holding group decision-making sessions that invite discussion is the best way to go about this, as it opens the door for disagreements which can be handled by the manager. In the end, team members should understand that they are building an idea together and not as individuals who are responsible for part of the tasks list.

Achieve a transparent culture

 A study of more than 40,000 employees by TINYpulse found that transparency was the most important factor in overall employee happiness. By encouraging open communication, managers can let their team members feel comfortable in saying what they feel. Instead of treating disagreements like an issue that needs to be handled, managers can encourage healthy disagreement and then enable a mutually beneficial decision. Managers who walk the talk, i.e., being transparent with team members, actively listening to their concerns, etc., start to see their team do the same.

How Can You Encourage Team Synergy?

Managers who desire to have their team perform in synergy should first understand the talents and strengths each individual brings to the team. In order to create the right team culture, they should ensure their team members are aligned on the shared vision and goal of the project. After laying the groundwork, managers can assign roles and accountabilities that maximize personal strengths. They can keep the team engaged by providing timely coaching sessions (based on how the team works) and celebrating team milestones.

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