When people hear the word “synergy”, most think of a dimly lit stage with a CEO walking about, preparing to give a presentation at a product launch or quarterly insight in the style of a TED Talk. Synergy (along with the likes of agile and dynamism) has become such an overused buzzword on everything from job postings to resumes and cover letter advice columns over the past decade that it is difficult to remember it has a very useful meaning for us as organizational leaders. But, luckily for us, synergy can be better understood by breaking down into individual parts.
Synergy is essentially the meshing of individual task efficiency to create a complete, smooth-operating system within a team. That is, every team member completing assignments with an absolute understanding of said assignments so that when they are combined, the project is even better than each individual part. This opens up the doors to allow the team to adjust and fine-tune means and methods, thereby making the operating processes within the team smoother and more efficient.
Synergy is going to hinge on you as the team leader. In fact, I would say that the first and most important stage of setting your team or organization up as a synergistic environment will be the understanding of the skills your team members possess. It is only when you know this that you can start to align tasks and assignments to each member that match their specific skills and will allow them to flourish. This is what it means to set your team up for success. Only then can you move on to the next stage of the process, one that I am dubbing rough tuning.
Rough tuning is the process of gaining better understanding through task completion. Repetition is going to be your friend at this stage. At the beginning of the rough tuning stage, tasks may appear unfamiliar and intimidating. This will often lead to poor performance by members of the team. But, after every completion of the task, they become more knowledgeable of the completion process and, thereby, becoming more familiar and more confident with each attempt. You want each member of the team to be able to replicate their tasks without thinking twice or second guessing themselves as they do. This is opening the gate to the next step of the process: meshing and fine tuning.
By meshing the pieces, or tasks, that each team member has together, they will begin to find points that have a hard time combining and becoming one. This is where communication will become their greatest tool. They will need to be able to effectively communicate potential issues and problems to each other in an effort to adjust portions of their individual tasks (fine tuning) so that they come together in a grand final project (meshing). By making small adjustments to the individual tasks and assignments, they will yet again gain a better understanding of the assignment itself, this time with the added benefit of being able to combine it with other team members’ portions.
Synergy is an extremely powerful tool at the disposal of leaders everywhere. That being said, the insights you possess as the leader will make or break the process of becoming a synergistic environment. By recognizing team members’ strengths early in the process, you can set your team up for success. From there, the burden shifts to your guidance as they begin to gain a full understanding of their assigned tasks. Once they can master their assignments, it will up to you as a leader to foster effective communication practices as they begin to mesh their pieces together and fine tune their processes. The outcomes of developing this synergistic environment will push your teams to the top of their respective fields, where they have the opportunity to become the pinnacle of their respective practices. They may even get the opportunity to give a presentation on a dimly lit stage where they can unironically claim that synergy is their team’s best quality.