In present day government land you might roll your eyes or even cringe a little when you hear workplace fads that have been overused like innovation, diversity and going green. But what about synergy? Yes, there was a major push in the early 2000s for fostering synergy in the workplace but it is a concept that may need some new life breathed into it. Here’s why.
Synergy is a timeless concept that encompasses all of those overused buzzwords into one concept and will actually make life at work easier.
To recap, according to Facilitation and Coaching Consultant, G. Ross Lawford, Ph.D., “Synergy” is when, “team members function so well together that their output significantly exceeds what the same individuals would have achieved working on the task non-collaboratively.” In other words, 2+2=5/think smarter - not harder.
Although this sounds great on paper, synergy just doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and must go through a progression of phases in order to be achieved. To track this progression, one can reference the infamous Stages of Group Development concept created by Bruce Tuckman in 1965. These include the well-known phases of:
- Forming: An exciting and creative time where the team is ironing out goals and roles.
- Storming: A time when the team may hit a few bumps in the road and conflict may arise. Don’t avoid the conflict though. Tackle it head-on so you can move on to the next stage in the group development process.
- Norming: The phase where the team has resolved its conflicts and begins to work well together.
- Performing: This is where synergy is achieved. The group hits the sweet spot of running a smooth operation and your team feels unstoppable.
However, it should be noted that whenever a team change occurs (i.e. reorganizations, employees exit the team, new leadership arrives), the group development process needs to start from the beginning. The glass slipper won’t fit anymore (insert sad face).
So maybe your team is stuck in the Storming phase. What are some ways your team can break free of conflict and move on to the next phase in order to get to the Promise Land of Synergy? According to the Confidence Center, below are some team concepts to consider focusing on:
- In Synergy We Trust: Building trust among the team is an important step to get out of the storming phase. This means feeling free to share ideas, asking for help when you need it and showing up for meetings on time.
- “You’re the Bee’s Knee”: Showing appreciation to your team members is an integral component of getting away from Storming. By exhibiting genuine appreciate for others, your team is more likely to share and contribute to the well being of the group.
- Speak Your Speech: Fostering an environment where the team feels safe and comfortable sharing ideas allows for the team to not be cheated of the power of many brains. This will also avoid Groupthink.
While fostering synergy, you also may need some help getting past your dislike for a team member you may not necessarily care for. Try this exercise. One a piece of paper write 3 things you like about this person and then write 3 things they do well. Next, say one of those things to that person in a sincere manner. Scientifically you should feel better because when you do something nice for someone your body releases serotonin. And who doesn’t want serotonin coursing through their veins, right?
As mentioned earlier, the amazing thing about synergy is that it helps to cover issues like diversity and innovation that are also important to running a high-functioning team. By combining brainpower, skill sets and leveraging unique abilities in a team, the sky becomes the limit. Not having synergy in the workplace is like the Power Rangers trying to defeat Rita Repulsa without forming the Megazord or the Planeteers not combining their rings to call Captain Planet.
Please share your thoughts regarding this workplace topic and leave a comment on what you think about synergy and your experience with it.