Light the Spark in Team Synergy

Team synergy can be difficult to create but highly impactful when cultivated. Artfully bringing together the perfect recipe of individuals on a team allows their strengths to shine, their instructional proficiency to soar, and their impact on students to skyrocket. The question is then… How do you create the most effective combination of team members?

This post will cover what gets in the way of creating highly effective teams, strategies to build synergy in the long-term and how to hold everyone accountable within the team.

 Top 3 Synergy Suckers

light the spark in team synergyThe top three factors below decrease and even eliminate any synergy within a team. Knowing that these factors exist, leaders can be pro-active in designing teams with these elements in mind.

    1. Hierarchy – Whether spoken or not, if there is a sense of hierarchy among team members, the capacity of the team never reaches fruition. People shut down, aren’t honest or vulnerable with each other and then stop contributing to the team altogether. Hierarchy can appear in terms of knowledge level, years of experience, closeness of relationship, etc.
    2. Lack of Systems – When teams aren’t provided a road map for how to operate, they waste a lot of time trying to create their own. Arguments erupt, disagreements turn personal, and no forward momentum is made towards team goals.
    3. Miscommunication – Communication is the heart of every relationship. When individuals are open and honest with each other, they better understand how each other operate and can navigate obstacles quickly. When members do not feel safe, hold back their opinions, or do not clarify any misunderstandings, the team potential is shattered.

5 Strategies to Build Team Synergy

Building team synergy for the long term is no easy task. A band aid fix will not produce the desired results. Getting to the root of the disfunction will allow teams to flourish. The five strategies listed below are ways to remedy teams of any synergy level so that they can continue to progress forward together.

    1. Create Goals – Consult the curriculum, school initiatives, and state/district standards. These pillars of information will serve as guide posts for determining if the team is on track. Create these goals together so there is investment from all team members to reach the goals.
    2. Set Norms– Discuss necessary boundaries within the team in terms of being prepared, having healthy discourse, and reaching outcomes. Move beyond the surface level norms (ie. show up on time) and push toward high leverage norms that actually produce results (ie. contribute a unique idea daily).
    3. Lean on Strengths– Each member has an X-factor. Use the leadership state of mind that says everyone is a leader in their own right. Discover each team member’s experiences, perspectives, talents, interests, etc. and leverage those to your advantage to meet goals.
    4. Assign Roles– Every member of the team is just as important as the next. When we believe the leadership mindset of everyone playing an integral role, everyone shows up bigger than before. Roles might include a note taker, researcher, presenter, etc. Roles provide purpose and clarity in the mission.
    5. Build Relationship– No one has to be friends, but you have to be friendly. This means showing respect at all times. When we learn how to work together, we gain power as a whole. Working together is an imperfect dance that requires effort, energy, grace and kindness.

Increasing Stakeholder Synergy

Now that you know what obstacles might occur within a team and which structures to set up so that you can  operate at maximum capacity, it’s time to review the roles that each stakeholder plays in the success of the team.

    • Teachers– The investment and expectation of each teacher on the team is high, especially after crafting goals, norms and roles. It’s important each teacher hold themselves and each other accountable. The team is only as strong as the weakest member. If someone is not respecting others, fulfilling their role, contributing their strengths, adhering to norms or working towards the common goal, the team’s strength weakens.
    • Coaches– Whether it is an instructional coach, subject area or grade level facilitator, curriculum coordinator or PD presenter, they become an additional member of the team. They are able to facilitate the work of the team live while the real work is happening. They prompt and question to help keep everyone on course while also supporting efforts to overcome any obstacles.
    • Administrators– The school leaders are the ones distributing teachers into teams. They consider factors such as personality, years of experience, teaching styles, strengths etc. These factors effect the synergy of a team and should carefully consider the impact they have on the whole of the team.

Whether you are helping develop teams or are part of one, understanding the intricate details of how to make, grow and retain effective teams will transform your skillset and overall impact on others.

Next Steps

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About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.