How Critical is Team Chemistry?

Posted by Dick Daniels on March 15th , 2012 in Lencioni, corporate culture, interpersonal dynamics, team chemistry, team dynamics

Two Dimensions Connected to Chemistry

There are two aspects of this corporate dance of chemistry.  One involves the interpersonal dynamics of the team.  The other addresses the personal fit in light of the values that define the organizational culture.

1.  Team Dynamics

This discussion is not intented to imply that a team should be a homogeneous group of look alikes who think alike, talk alike, and work alike.  That is a much weaker team than a group of diverse individuals in every category represented by that term:  gender, generation, etc. etc.  At the end of the day the ultimate question is: can this group of people work together in a high-performing way?  If not, what needs to change?  Individuals do not just automatically bring their individual strengths to the table and work collaboratively in an effective way.  Lencioni address an insightful approach to this challenge in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  With intentionality a team leader can develop a team by addressing each of the five areas in Lencioni's model.  But there are times and there are personalities that challenge the potential effectiveness of the team.  That is when leaders earn their keep!  The timing is critical of deciding when to re-invest in a team member through a personal/professional development plan, re-assign a team member to another part of the organization, or release and replace the individual for the sake of the team.  Many leaders admit that they tend to wait too long to make the tough call.

2.  Corporate Culture

Values define the ideal picture of corporate culture.  Values describe how we are going to work together as employees to achieve the mission and vision while executing the stragegy.  It provides a description of the character of the organization in relationship to each customer and each vendor.  Hiring decisions need to be made with those values in mind.  Once hired people who do not fit the corporate culture need to be managed out of the company in order to sustain the values among everyone else.  Otherwise, team members get critical and cynical of the inconsistencies and conclude that that values mean very little in how the company actually functions.  Again, the leadership challenge is to lead.  Address the individual who marches to the beat of a different corporate cultural drummer.  Find out why they are out of step.  Assess the impact on others.  But don't make the mistake of waiting too long to take action.  The infection spreads quickly and it interferes with employee engagement, collaboration, team dynamics, and productivity.  Each one has a price tag.  Even the best contributors with high individual productivity are not worth it in long run.