What is team chemistry, anyway?

Published Jan 24, 2018
What is team chemistry, anyway?

Just as no two people are identical, no two teams are identical.

Sooner or later, you will encounter a group of people who work together well with limited conflict and superior results. It might be a work crew that operates with near-military precision or a crack negotiating team that instantly transitions between members depending on the topic. The sports world calls it team chemistry. As the business world relies more and more on collaborative effort, leaders at every level need to understand the basics of team chemistry.

In essence, it is the dynamic that arises from the different qualities each team member contributes and the interactions of team members with each other.

Why it matters

Teams with good chemistry tend to achieve higher levels of productivity. In some respects, it comes down to better time management. Consider a project in which the team lacks chemistry; members may spend more time arguing over every aspect of the project than cooperating to find workable solutions and moving on to the next issue. Teams with good chemistry also have lower absenteeism, and members tend to think in terms of team success. This means that individuals suppress personal ambitions in order to advance the group’s goals.

How to build chemistry

Leaders must take responsibility for building team chemistry. Because team members typically cannot refuse to participate, the person assembling the team must manage its chemistry. If you find yourself tasked with putting together a team to run a change initiative, for example, you cannot simply put the most talented people you find into a room and expect results. Exceptional talent often carries a big ego in its wake. Sometimes, you must sacrifice talent to avoid power struggles and team fragmentation.

Building chemistry

Team chemistry is one of the most complicated keys to the success of organizations. Effective teams are more than just a collection of talented members. To be effective, a team has to be able to combine the efforts and abilities of members in the right way. Consequently, what works well for one team may not work well for others. However, research has identified several factors that usually produce good team chemistry.

Develop credibility

To effectively influence team members, leaders should have credibility. One of the best ways to build credibility is to always finish what you start and hold on to your word. Sometimes you may have to face a temporary defeat – often in the form of financial loss – in order to achieve your ultimate goal.

Articulate a vision

The kind of vision that energizes a team is a vivid picture of the future that's ambitious and exciting. To motivate a team to its highest level of performance, there must be passion. Perhaps the best metaphor here is falling in love. When we fall in love, a lot of our attention is directed toward the object of our affection, and our passion moves us to be creative and heroic. A leader's vision can produce similar passion, but the vision has to be connected to the values and priorities of the team members. If your vision inspires passion, you can expect a high level of motivation and impressive performance. Thus, your vision should be ambitious, creative and original so that it's perceived as really interesting.

Set goals

After articulating a vision, break down the work to be completed into SMART goals. Smart goals are more concrete and manageable than a vision, and they point effort in a specific direction.

Encourage constructive debate

Research on catastrophic group decisions (e.g., the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Watergate cover up, the space shuttle Challenger disaster) has identified a distinctive pattern in the teams that have made the poor decisions. One of the pitfalls of those groups is censorship of dissent. If team members pressure themselves or each other to suppress dissenting opinions in order to maintain harmony, the diversity of members' insights is wasted and lousy decisions can be made. Accordingly, effective team leaders understand that a moderate amount of task-focused conflict is constructive. If their teams are not debating issues, effective team leaders promote debate by playing the role of devil's advocate.

Encourage role-making

It's neurotic and counterproductive for team leaders to think that only they should influence team members. Effective leaders don't perceive the role-making behavior of other team members as an inherent threat to their leadership. When non-leaders take the initiative to direct work activities or build relationships, effective leaders credit their initiative and shape their efforts to bring them in line with the vision.

Promote cohesiveness

Members feel more attracted to the team when it makes them feel special. One of the ways this can be achieved is by using a tough initiation. Focus on the team's successes – success engenders cohesiveness. It's easy to feel attracted to a successful group. Who feels attracted to a team of losers?

As always, here's the list of links where I found all the great information behind this article.

Managing Team Chemistry:
http://www.wright.edu/~scott.williams/skills/chemistry.htm

What is good team chemistry, anyway?
http://insidesportsanalytics.com/blog-3/files/sports_analytics_podcast_sloan_conference_chemistry_David_Ross_baseball.html

FIFA 18 Chemistry explained - how to increase Team Chemistry, Individual Chemistry, and max Chemistry in Ultimate Team:
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017-11-03-fifa-18-chemistry-explained-how-to-increase-team-chemistry-individual-chemistry-fut

The Power of Invisible Leadership:
https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/the-power-of-invisible-leadership/book228965

Discover and read more posts from Izaias Cavalcanti
get started