While personalities are affected by literal chemistry, the idea of team chemistry goes beyond just the physical or emotional makeup of people. It refers to how individuals with unique personalities and abilities merge into a cohesive unit. Good team chemistry means getting along and working together. Each person has an understanding of how to interact with others on the team in a healthy and productive way. Apparently, geocaching has been identified as the biggest treasure hunt in the world.
The Business Chemistry framework developed by Deloitte—which is based on Fisher’s analysis of neurological influences in relationships—identifies various work styles and provides tools and research to show how teams can work together better. Deloitte’s researchers have found that when teams consistently underperform, team members themselves are rarely to blame. Rather: [The fault] rests with leaders who fail to effectively tap diverse work styles and perspectives—even at the senior-most levels. Some managers just don’t recognize how profound the differences between their people are; others don’t know how to manage the gaps and tensions or understand the costs of not doing so. As a result, some of the best ideas go unheard or unrealized, and performance suffers.
In other words, a good leader is aware of the various personalities around the table and knows how to take advantage of diversity, rather than ignoring it or being confused or frustrated by it. Chemistry doesn’t mean there will never be arguments or disagreements, and it doesn’t mean everyone has to feel warm fuzzy feelings about each other all the time. That’s not realistic or healthy. If you always get along, it may even be an indication that the team is too homogenous. Invite diverse opinions and perspectives into the room—you’ll be stronger because of it.
Chemistry is less about agreement and more about commitment. You can choose to be compatible with colleagues you might not naturally gravitate toward as friends. You might never go on vacation together or take selfies together, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work well together—after all, being work friends is better than being work adversaries. And over time, as you share experiences, overcome obstacles, and build something together, you might even develop a bond that becomes a long-term friendship.
When it comes to building a team, chemistry is not the only factor, but it’s an important one. I always look for what I call the four Cs: chemistry, character, competence, and capacity. All four are important. Chemistry can’t be the sole basis that gets someone a spot on a team, but on the other hand, neither can competence. You need chemistry to work together, character to stay true and act with integrity, competency to get the job done well, and capacity to handle the pressure that will come. Of the four, chemistry might be most easily overlooked because we tend to assume a great worker will be a great team member. Often that’s true, but it’s not a given.