Increasing Employee Performance Through Team Chemistry

Matt Wujciak

employee performance

Whether they’re the New England Patriots, Google’s software engineers, or Deloitte’s customer service team, everyone can benefit from learning a thing or two about synergistic team chemistry. Some of the most successful organizations are beginning to tap into measurable variables and employee personality traits to improve efficiency and predict success outcomes in the office.

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“The modern concept of synergy was proposed by chemists,” said MIT-trained economist and former Forbes contributor Luis Romero. “They discovered that every time they separated atoms or molecules from a complex compound, the behavior of the separate parts could never explain the behavior of all of them interconnected… Chemists called this principles synergy… In teamwork, the same can happen.”

Google's Approach

In our era of predictive analytics, voice technology, and regression modeling, we are able to examine agent performance with a scrutiny that not even Silicon Valley’s forefathers could have imagined. Whether on corporate campuses or within university laboratories, psychologists, sociologists and statisticians are devoting themselves to studying everything from team composition to email patterns to figure out how to make employees into more productive versions of themselves.

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A few years ago, Google’s People Operations department analyzed virtually every aspect of their employee’s lives. After studying how frequently particular people eat together, as one example, they concluded that the most productive employees tend to build larger networks by rotating dining companions (demonstrating managerial skills like strong communication practices and tendencies to avoid micromanaging others). While Google’s approach has proven effective, Deloitte has taken employee optimization and agent performance a step further.

Pioneers, Drivers, Integrators, and Guardians

According to the Harvard Business Review article, “Pioneers, Drivers, Integrators, and Guardians,” Deloitte created a system called Business Chemistry that identifies these four primary work styles for accomplishing shared goals, and aligning the right mix of tendencies in each team. Pioneers, the first category they identified, value possibilities, spark energy and imagination and believe risks are worth taking. Guardians, the second, value stability and bring logical order and rigor. Drivers, the next category, use logic and data to value challenge and generate momentum. Lastly, integrators value connection among relationships and draw teams together.

Each of the styles is different from the others, but they’re not necessarily different in measure or value. What’s important, is pinpointing the correct combination of styles, a strategy Deloitte’s HR department is increasingly incorporating into the sales and customer service teams. For example, Guardians are generally more reserved than Drivers—but both types are very focused, which can help them find common ground.

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By pulling different styles closer—having them collaborate on small projects and then taking on bigger ones if it’s working out—you can create complementary partnerships on your teams. This is known as the synergy effect, where 2 + 2 = 5, a larger result than the sum of its counterparts. 

In describing their view on team chemistry, Deloitte’s articles “Business Chemistry, Using science to Improve the Art of Business Relationships,” states, an analysis of team composition provides perspective on relative strengths and areas of misalignment to understand how to utilize each individual’s natural tendencies best while leveraging the overall group makeup to achieve goals.”

Because when it comes to your organization’s functionality and communication across different departments (customer service, sales, digital marketing, and more), you are going to want your agents to have the same positively inexplicable behavior as the molecules used to coin the term, synergy.