For more than a decade, I was a player/manager of a men’s baseball team, a collection of former minor leaguers, college players and a few former high school benchwarmers. It was a pretty serious endeavor for grown men who agreed they would carve out the time to play 50 games a year together.
That was a big time consideration. Everyone had a full-time job and family obligations. But they made a commitment to the team to practice and be ready for a four-hour block of their weekends for the team.
There were much better hitting teams than ours. Our hitting was kind of spotty most of the time. And, there seemed to be better pitchers on the other team than on ours. We held our own on defense, but occasionally you’d see an error committed that you hadn’t seen since Little League.
But our team won. Not just every so often, but most of the time. For more than a decade we won more than 80 percent of our games and claimed a few titles along the way.
So how did we do that with inferior talent?
The secret was that we put together a team of guys who liked and appreciated the talents of each other. We didn’t want to let each other down and that translated into personal motivation by each member to maximize their talent. We rooted for each other.
Our key to success, in a simple phrase, was team chemistry.
And, while some businesses subscribe to the theory of hiring team players, they often don’t execute that strategy very well. That’s too bad, because good chemistry can overcome almost any obstacle in the workplace.
Here are some simple rules for creating team chemistry.
Hire team players. Sounds simple, but it’s not. You have to examine the motivations of the people you hire. Do they want simply to climb the corporate ladder? Do they just want to make more money? Do they possess the personalities and skills to work together with each other?
A great way to discover this is during the interview process. Do they take credit for all of their accomplishments or do they share the credit with others? When talking to references pay attention to how the individual is described as working with others.
Make certain that managers are working together. How do you expect to get the entire staff to work together for a common goal if managers aren’t doing the same thing? Many companies forget this critical aspect of teamwork. It’s not enough to hold others accountable if you are not going to hold yourself accountable.
Weed out negative employees. Not every hire is going to work out. Over time, you might find workers who don’t embrace the company’s mission, or who consistently try to put themselves above their team, or who speak negatively behind the backs of their peers or managers. They do exist, and they must be removed or chemistry will be undermined.
Monitor team chemistry regularly. It isn’t just something that happens, you have to pay attention to chemistry and make sure your workers are a good fit. If one part of the company doesn’t have good chemistry, it’s almost certain to negatively affect other parts. Executives and managers have to not only embrace the concept of good chemistry, but actively pursue it.