I used to be the admin for an IT Department based at a New York City non-profit. Most of the department had been with the organization for well over ten years when I joined in 2010. The department had a great dynamic because most of its members had known one another for so long. There were even members who were brought into the organization by a friend or an associate. Together, the department created a team. The Lesson 6 Module explains that “a team has a mission or goal to achieve, and all members of the team are involved in the process of achieving that goal,” and that could not have been truer for the IT team (2020). We all worked individually and together to achieve the organization’s goals and the goals of our department. Everyone understood what was expected of them and completed the tasks and assignments of their role. As the Lesson 6 Module states, “teamwork is the process of achieving the team’s mission,” and the department consistently demonstrated its success with teamwork (2020).
Our team had synergy. Moran, Abramson, and Moran (2014) define synergy as “a cooperative or combined action, and occurs when diverse or disparate individuals or groups collaborate for a common cause” (p. 266). The IT team was diverse because it included people of different genders, cultures, races, ages, attitudes, and beliefs. The team managed to have both surface-level and deep-level diversity within its ranks. The team also collaborated frequently on projects, tasks, and assignments that advanced the team’s mission and corresponded to the organization’s mission. The team’s dynamic was great because the group had cohesion and regularly exceeded the outlined goals. However, the team’s synergy came to a sudden halt when it was announced that certain IT support aspects were transferred to an outsourcing vendor.
The initial announcement that the IT team was going to be divided was not met with full support. Not only was the team going to have to incorporate new members, but those members were also going to be located overseas. Additionally, some current members would be transitioned to new roles at the organization. Although Moran, Abramson, and Moran (2014) explain that “the differences in the world’s people can lead to mutual growth and accomplishment that is more than the single contribution of each party,” it was hard to understand how the team was going to reach new achievements when it had been split apart and given new group members (p. 266). The Lesson 6 Module describes that “typically when we work with someone new we get frustrated, not because that person doesn’t know the job, but because that person isn’t a true member of the team yet,” and that is how the IT team felt about the four new support staff members (2020).
Luckily, all was not disoriented with the changes within the IT Team. Management knew that the new team needed to be just as successful as the previous team. Therefore, they quickly began getting the team together, virtually to rebuild the group’s synergy. One of the first group activities we did together was a half-day workshop where we got to learn and relearn about one another and our experiences. Moran, Abramson, and Moran (2014) state “the sharing of dissimilar perceptions and cultural backgrounds can be used to enhance problem-solving and improve decision-making,” and by participating in these activities and others, the new IT team began to understand and familiarize themselves with the new team members (p. 266).
Overall, the workshops, training classes, and regular status meetings slowly recreated the team’s dynamics once grown accustomed to. The Lesson 6 Module explains that new members will “become familiar with everyone else’s tendencies and end up fitting into the team and being able to contribute to the synergy” (2020). This tactic went both ways as the outsource team, and the New York City team built synergy together to achieve its goals once again. Moran, Abramson, and Moran (2014) state that “team interaction is an energy exchange,” and that was true for the new global IT team (p. 271). We energized each other by working together, valuing our differences, and finding common ground to achieve the department’s goals.
Moran, R. T., Abramson, N. R., & Moran, S. V. (2014). Managing cultural differences. Abingdon: Routledge.
Pennsylvania State University (2020). Lesson 06: Cultural Synergy. OLEAD 410: Leadership in Global Context. Retrieved from