Is There Such a Thing as Team Synergy?

You’ve all seen the blurbs because many organizations have them up on the walls on their inspirational posters:

Teamwork Divides the Tasks and Multiplies the Success!

When We All Work Together, We Win Together!

Achieve Team Synergy!

We’re Stronger When We Work Together

There are many, many others. These inspirational sayings are usually on top of a background picture of puzzle pieces, a rowing team, a beautiful lake by a mountain, etc. You get the point.

So, does real synergy occur? Is it possible? The answer is “it depends.” I know people hate that type of answer. But, I’m a social scientist. We love nuance. So, here’s what it depends on: The people, the organizational environment, and, the team process.

The research demonstrates that synergy is possible. There are some good examples of team synergy that have been documented. The teams that in fact reach synergy do succeed and create something that goes beyond what could normally be expected of them. For example, Larson and LaFasto (1989; LaFasto & Larson, 2001) do a really nice job in their books of providing examples of teams that have succeeded in reaching synergy.

What we also know from the research is that synergy is a rare phenomenon. In fact, the problems that occur in teams – communication issues, poor decision making, a lack of leadership, no clear vision, and many other problems – happen far more often than synergy. The goal of improving teamwork (and maybe even succeeding in reaching synergy!) is to reduce the forces that cause these team problems while at the same time strengthening the forces that help a team to succeed.

What to achieve synergy in your team? Continue to follow our blog and maybe you’ll have learn some creative ideas about how to reduce team conflict, help your team to perform, and maybe, just maybe, reach team synergy.

By: Tim Franz

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