It wasn’t until college that I began to appreciate – and truly understand – the power of teamwork. Throughout grade school, sports and extracurricular organizations put the basic team-building skills in place, but it wasn’t until I could take a step back and look at the results of teamwork holistically that I realized the synergy that made teamwork successful in the first place.
Synergy: (n) When the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
We’ve all been a part of teams in which this wasn’t the case – maybe it’s because you had a sour partner or you weren’t feeling particularly group-y. It’s happened to all of us.
Then there are those shining teams, and boy do they shine. These are the teams in which you understand the intrinsic role and value of each individual in the success of your team, and – voila! – synergy.
It’s not that easy, of course. Realizing that we’re better off together than individually takes a lot of gut – and a lot of swallowing our pride. But once we understand the benefits of synergy, we can be its stewards and top proponents, because it really makes teamwork that much better.
Benefits of Synergy
From my experience, synergy begins with a motivation toward a team goal (versus a personal goal). Whether it’s winning a new business pitch or nailing your next presentation, a synergistic team is motivated by a result that’s best for all.
Synergy also creates more effective communication and better ideas. When you understand and value each other for your unique assets, you’re able to better direct and adjust your communication styles. And clearer communication can generate brighter ideas because you won’t be clouded by misunderstandings or judgment.
Synergy’s top benefit is what it does in building team trust. There’s something about knowing that you almost need one another that creates that bond. And trust is only multiplied when you can dissect its pieces and see how its interconnected and reciprocated.
Tips to Creating Synergy
So, how do we create this sought after synergy? Like I said before, it’s not so easy, and sometimes, no matter how hard we try, it just doesn’t seem to happen. Still, here are three tips that’ll point you in the right direction.
- Recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Once you realize you are not the God of your presentation and that your teammate has incredibly valuable suggestions, finding the group’s synergy becomes much easier. If your strength is writing and your teammate’s is design, let her do all the graphics and you stick to the copy. There’s no need to stretch yourself too thin – that’s the beauty of synergy.
- Develop flexible roles. Rigid distribution of roles can be confining when you’re invested in a team goal in its entirety. Even though you might be better at writing and she’s better at design, it doesn’t mean your opinions don’t matter. Develop flexible roles that allow you to highlight your strengths while also valuing your opinions on every other part.
- Be realistic and accepting of each other. We all like to dream big, and we should! But it’s important to remember that synergy, like Rome, wasn’t built in a day. It takes weeks and months to truly get to know each other and bring out the best in one another. But I can promise you that when you do, you’ll reap the benefits. You’ll win that new business pitch and you’ll ace that presentation. And the next time your team is up, you’ll feel stronger and better than before.