Why Team Chemistry Matters
You spend more time with your colleagues than you do with your family. Do you really need to spend more time with them in order to get along better?
The importance of team building is integral to the success of your team. Hiring the right person can often be more important than hiring someone that has better qualifications or experience, unless you’re in I.T (Editor’s note: that was a joke). The “right” person is usually a combination of personality, experience & social skills. The people you work with are your second family. You spend at least 37 hours a week together; go for lunch, drinks after work amongst other things. You celebrate birthdays (with crappy black forest office cake), add them on your social media networks and bond together.
Finding the right personnel that fits together is a tricky thing to manage. The best managers are the ones that can determine if a prospective hire can not only mesh well with the existing team, but add something to enhance it. There is always difficulty in choosing between the most qualified and the best qualified candidate. There are tangibles that can be measured (experience, education) and the intangibles that are harder to gauge (work ethic, personality, chemistry, etc…).
General Managers in sports often struggle with this dilemma. For example, would you take someone that is a superior talent but has a negative impact on the team around him, such as a past his prime Kobe Bryant, or would you rather hire someone who is very good (but not a MVP candidate), but can work alongside anyone, like Al Horford? A great example in regards to personnel performance and employee chemistry can be found in the National Basketball Association.
The Golden State Warriors, the best team in the NBA (at the time of publication) are currently ranked No.1 in offense and posses the highest points deferential as well. Many attribute their success to great defense and arguably the best backcourt in the league – Stephen Curry & Klay Thompson – and first year head coach, Steve Kerr. Talent and coaching obviously have a huge impact on the success of the team, just as how skilled colleagues and managers have an impact on their business unit. But experience and skill only go so far. Need an example? Look at years past when the most talented teams lost in the finals, or burnout much earlier in the playoff race. Talent doesn’t always guarantee results.
An example of what makes the Warriors outliers – as most NBA teams do not follow suit – is that they often eat together; which demonstrates a rare comradery & solidarity. Of the 82 games in the NBA season, not including the pre-season and playoffs, half the games played are home games, and the rest are on the road, meaning many meals are to be had.
Imagine the people you work with for 40 hours a week. Now imagine wanting to, and enjoying eating most of your meals together, on a voluntarily basis. For most people this is difficult to fathom. Would you want to spend more than 40 hours a week with your family every week? Wouldn’t you get tired of them? Think honestly and objectively. It takes a special group of people wanting to be around each other for such long periods of times.
Golden State forward-centre David Lee states: “Chemistry is not something you can fake. You either have it or you don’t.” On off-days most players are “stray bullets,” ignoring their teammates until practice.
Viewing chemistry in professional sports is wise, because within athletic competition - especially basketball - team chemistry is evident and easily readable. During a game, players constantly rely on each other and play together to win. As players’ faces and bodies aren’t obscured by equipment, it’s easy to determine when a player is happy and enjoying himself or not. The best teams, like the Warriors, always seem to be having a great time, where as others are not.
It is harder to see team chemistry in business, but look close enough and it’ll present itself to you. Improving it, that’s a different story.