How Does Team Chemistry Influence Productivity?

Published: July 1, 2010

Welcome back to the Team Clock Institute's monthly newsletter. Each month, Breakthrough Teams will invite readers to participate in an Ask/Apply/Act model: Ask: this month's team challenge Apply: example story Act: action steps for consideratio

ASK : “How does ‘team chemistry’ influence the productivity of a group?”

APPLY : I attended the final game of Chicago’s “Crosstown Classic” pitting the Chicago White Sox against their city rival Chicago Cubs in an annual six game series. Historically, the series is basically even after about 70 games over 12 years. In 2010, however, momentum swung in the direction of the White Sox.

Putting my allegiance to the south side club aside and looking at the two teams as objectively as possible, the advantage of effective teaming was clear.

Beyond lessons about sports, this year’s match-up provided formulas for team sickness and wellness. When a team is on a winning streak, everything appears effortless. When a team is on losing streak, all the bounces seem to go the wrong way. In either scenario, the presence or absence of “team chemistry” becomes a reflection of the strength of the team’s foundation.
Teams that make a strong investment in a common direction, competency-based roles and trusted leadership are better equipped to adapt effectively to adversity. Teams that struggle in the investment phase tend to unravel when the going gets tough.

ACT : All teams change constantly. Not all teams, however, change in a healthy direction. Teams are always either spiraling upward or downward.
The direction of momentum is a choice. Every team member, not just the leader, is accountable for making a positive contribution to the team’s effectiveness. It only takes one toxic teammate to pull an entire group off track. Conversely, one act of poise under pressure can be enough to rally a team around an ambitious goal.

What is your role on the team and how does every interaction with your teammates provide an opportunity to support the common vision?

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.