Synergy is a buzzword that managers and HR pros like to bandy around; sometimes they get it and sometimes they really don’t have a clue. In short, synergy happens in the workplace when two or more people working together produce a better outcome than if they did it alone. It is not a touchy-feely concept, but instead is a practical approach to getting results – and it’s not all that difficult to create.
Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your team. Evaluate your employees to uncover their interpersonal skills. Look for leadership qualities and the ability to follow directions. Check out who’s quiet and diligent and who communicates with exuberance and energy.
Coordinate your teams so they complement each other, instead of placing people with similar attributes together. You’ll have difficulty developing synergy, for example, if you put a bunch of leaders on one project – there’ll be no one left to do the grunt work.
Switch up your floor plan to create more open spaces so team members can easily collaborate without having to call a meeting. When employees can lean over and talk with coworkers or quickly take a poll before making a big decision, you increase the likelihood that they’ll work together more. Isolation in separate offices with doors is antithetical to synergy.
Set goals for your company that everyone can get behind. Synergy is much more likely to occur when everyone is aiming for the same goal. People find ways to overcome their differences when they have a common objective. At the same time, you’ve got to make sure that everyone will be rewarded for their efforts, whether it’s bonuses or increased hours, the goal should have something in it for everyone to push them into that synergetic mode.
- Instead of building your next training session around the technical aspects of your business, create training that increase the effectiveness of your employees’ interpersonal and communication skills. Those seem to be the biggest stumbling blocks to creating synergy in the workplace. The better equipped your staff is at talking and cooperating with each other, the more synergistic your business can become.
- Don’t rely on your “gut instincts,” or water-cooler talk to gauge whether your tactics to create synergy are working. It’s too important to leave it to chance. Take the pulse of your staff regularly through questionnaires, polls and surveys. Ask employees to give you feedback about how the teams are working and what obstacles they’re facing. Check the nature of the motivation driving your workforce and see if everyone understands the common goals and how they’ll have a better chance of reaching them if they work together.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."