Synergy is kind of a cliché word these days. We talk about teams having synergy…We talk about synergistic relationships…But is synergy really happening in our teams and organizations? Synergy is defined as “the interaction of elements that, when combined, produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc” (Dictionary.com). Put another, more elegant way: “a designed beauty of synergy is that it serves only to add, never subtract (Barb Rententbach Synergy 2009). This may be what we want when we bring a group of people together, but is that really what we are getting?
In CTI’s Co-Active® Coach program, the final training class is, interestingly enough, called Synergy. It is an opportunity for the coaches-in-training to bring together all they have learned in the previous courses to create something greater than the sum of all the pieces and parts of Co-Active® coaching. The resulting “synergy” develops coaching relationships that foster a shared and deep care and respect for one another; that challenge long-held beliefs about ourselves and our world; and where each believes the best in the other. I’m not sure that this is what we see in corporate settings when we talk about synergy, but I would argue that these kinds of relationships are what drive real transformation and strong performance in organizations.
If real synergy is what you want in your workplace, consider these recommendations:
Show your true colors
- Know your values and your strengths and live and leverage them in the workplace always.
- Trust your intuition to open doors that might never get opened if you stayed always in your logical mind. Your intuition is usually more on the mark than you realize, often getting to the core of things more quickly than your head does. And even when it’s not quite right, bringing in another perspective to an activity or decision will likely spark other, more applicable ideas.
- Believe the best of yourself and others. Most of us have a small nagging voice in our heads that actively judges and criticizes us and those around us. Ignore this inner critic. We all react much more positively to active support than to open criticism.
Express yourself and encourage others to do the same
- Be courageous in your interactions with others. Say what you believe to be true, challenge people when necessary and do the things that scare you.
- Pay attention to yourself and those around you. Take note of how people around you are reacting and what they are saying and not saying. There is no sleepwalking allowed in a synergistic team.
- Connect with others. Give them your full attention. Take time to understand what’s important to them, their strengths and where they are coming from on any given topic.
Have some fun
- I know you’re at work, but studies show that play at work can lower stress levels and boost creativity and motivation, according to Dr Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play.
- Encourage curiosity – about a possible project, each other, your customers.
If you want synergy that “adds, never subtracts” in your workplace, then role-model and encourage a shared and deep care and respect for one another; allow people to communicate openly and challenge constructively when necessary; foster belief in the best of each team member; and expect people to be curious and have some fun. Now that’s synergistic!