If James Cameron taught us anything – apart from the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a badass, of course – it’s that when cultures clash, they can clash hard. Unfortunately, the same applies to people(see: Avatar), and while it’s unlikely that anybody on your team is a blue, tree-dwelling alien, there are no doubt plenty of different personality types and skillsets. It’s your job to manage, pair, and balance these in order to make your agency thrive – but how can you know for sure how to manage synergy within your team? Let’s dive into the concept of “synergy” itself and cover some tips on how to manage a team effectively.
What is Synergy?
Ever since the ’60s, everybody in the business world has been bounding about the term synergy. But what does this actually mean and how can you manage it in your team to maximize your agency (hopefully without having to resort to hanging out under magical trees)?
The term is actually far older than its use in the business world. From its Attic Greek roots of synergos, meaning “working together,” it gained popularity among social and political theorists in the 19th and early 20th century. It was then adopted by chemists before bursting onto the business scene in 1960s, where it quickly gained traction and notoriety (being mocked for its overuse as early as 1968).
Synergy in its current sense basically means that a group is more than the sum of its parts. A company with a cohesive team – with synergy – will be a better company, through increased communication, shared goals, common interests, and increased morale through friendship and support within the group.
But, the more pressing question is, how do you create this cohesion?
Creating and Managing Synergy Within Your Team
When thinking about a company as the sum of all individual team members, you first have you remember that these are individuals. That means various styles of working, personalities, and thoughts. While sometimes you might just get lucky with team members and everybody will mesh, this usually isn’t the case and oftentimes people will clash. This is an all-too-frequent occurrence when trying to push a product to launch in software development, for example, when a frontend and backend developer must work together and it all just goes horribly wrong. But there are some ways to get around this.
The first thing you should do is think about who is working with whom, and how to effectively pair employees in accordance with their personalities. We all have our own quirks, skillsets, and working styles, and you should focus on pairing people with colleges that will complement each other. First, consider personalities. Some team members may be more relaxed and laid-back, whereas others may be more highly strung. This doesn’t mean one does more work than the other, but pairing these two (depending on other factors) could motivate the former and chill out the latter. Similarly, having two very highly charged people working together could very easily lead to them butting heads, which would slow down the project as a whole. Personality pairing is one of the simplest yet most crucial team management techniques!
The second aspect you should consider is complementary values. It is very common for a company to have its core principles written out these days, but actually take this to heart when hiring. Ensuring every member of your team shares core ideals such as honesty and trust will make for stronger, longer-lasting relationships and ultimately greater synergy.
Finally, consider each individual’s skills. If one member of your team is a fantastic organizer and another ultra-creative, perhaps they would do well together to create the “next big thing” by combining their skills. Better yet, you can encourage skill-sharing between staff so everyone is always growing along with your company synergy.
Sometimes you can’t build perfect synergy just through picking the right people, however, which is when other factors such as communication and clear goals come into play.
Better communication is an effect of synergy, but also a cause – ensuring effective lines of communication are in place can ease team relationships and help build cohesion. Whereas once this may have meant hourly meetings, using digital solutions such as Productive is now a far simpler way to open up channels of communication between all your team members in real time.
Set Clear Goals
A big part of synergy is a whole team working towards the same goals, and the best way to make this happen is to set and communicate very clear aims from the word go. Even if two members of your team don’t run at the exact same pace, if you as team leader make it clear what they are both working towards, they’re more likely to get in sync. This ties into the previous point of communication, since without being able to tell people clearly what is needed, your goals are useless.
Remember You are Part of the Network
When acting as manager or team leader, it can be all too easy to start feeling separated from the rest of your peers. Take some time to remember that you are part of the synergy network (in less of a creepy way, and more of a harmonious we’re-all-one kind of way). You have a personality, skillset, and certain way of working as well! And as much as you don’t want to hear it, your style will almost certainly clash with another member of your team. Take the time to reflect on this and consider how you can fit with the people in your team. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should become somebody else as an answer to how to manage synergy within your team (we’re looking at you, Jake Sully). Just that you have to consider your own strengths and weaknesses.
Synergy is not something that can be created overnight, and often seems closer to unobtanium than anything else. But if you and your team work toward it, synergy can make for a far more efficient company and a much better working environment – maybe not the Hometree, but pretty close.