Building chemistry between the members of your team is all about personalities, shared beliefs, and trust.
It’s great to have a clear vision, a mission, a nice set of prioritized initiatives, and all the right people. But what starts differentiating a team from a high-performing team is chemistry and trust. These intangibles are some of the most critical elements of building a high-performing team, but they’re also some of the most elusive ones to build and capture.
Personalities and Shared Beliefs
Building chemistry between the members of your team is all about personalities and shared beliefs. Make sure everyone on your team is involved in the interview process because candidates will show different sides of themselves to different people. And sometimes, those sides can be unattractive detractors from what you’re trying to build.
When I was a consultant, we were bringing in another consultant to the team, and that person interviewed very well with the other members of the consulting staff. At the end of the interview process, we all got together in the team room and talked about this candidate. We were all very excited about hiring him. Then we stopped and we asked our front desk receptionist what she thought of him. She said, “He was incredibly rude. He spoke down to me. He acted like I didn’t matter.” That individual did not get an offer of employment from us. And he’s probably still wondering why.
To assess what people are like, you can also use some standard tools out there. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Personalysis, and other standard evaluation tools can help people understand each others’ personalities, styles, and preferences. And don’t just do it for candidates; sit down and do it with the entire team. It’s not critical for people to have the same personalities; actually, it’s quite detrimental. What matters here is you have to help the members of your team understand and respect other people’s personalities and how they like to work with others. Some people may have shared experiences, or they may have a shared ethnicity or geography that they’re from. Help them find some point of commonality that they can build from.
Once you’ve figured out the chemistry of the team and you have people with the right fit, you need to start building trust. Trust is about shared experiences and predictability.
Shared experiences show people how others perform and react during stressful situations. Consider putting your team on a big project together where they can share in experiences, build stories, and feel like they’ve accomplished something. The impact is that people will start feeling like they can rely upon one another to achieve a goal. They will start looking out for each other and feel responsible for each others’ wellbeing.
The second element of trust is predictability. I want to know how my colleague is going to react in a certain situation. Because then, when they tell me they’re going to do something and I’ve seen them behave in a manner that’s consistent with that in the past, I am much more likely to trust them when they tell me what they’re going to do. And if I understand that person’s values on top of having that predictability, well, that’s a really strong bond between me and that other member of the team. I start believing what they tell me they’re going to do because it’s consistent with their beliefs and their past performance.
So, building team chemistry involves hiring good people and putting them in situations where they can build trust. If you do this successfully, your people will gel quickly and start functioning as a team instead of as a group of individuals.
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