Why Team Chemistry Matters

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HR leaders should take a multi-faceted approach to building effective teams.

As HR managers work to build global teams and adopt inclusive management styles, many are also recognizing the importance of cultivating team chemistry. Understanding the interaction of individuals in group settings helps leaders manage teams with diverse backgrounds, skills and cultures. Diverse teams can "encourage more debate, more creative thinking and new ways of problem solving," says ADP Innovation Labs Business Anthropologist Martha Bird. She describes the idea as "putting pressure on the system to produce robust results."

Disruptive ideas can emerge when a group of talented individuals with varied perspectives and backgrounds sits down to hack out one of your toughest challenges — designing products and services for evolving customer demographics. As an HR leader, it's important to create a culture where everyone feels comfortable and can contribute to discussions. When everyone in the room is heard and can propose ideas, you've achieved an important part of the same design thinking that's powered some of the world's most brilliant innovations.

Workplace Team Structures Are Evolving

Diverse teams will likely be the future of the global workforce. According to the ADP Research Institute® report, The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace, organizations are moving toward flexible team structures, which supports both business agility and creative problem-solving. However, HR leaders should make sure that any team friction is productive instead of combative. The use of people analytics to understand group chemistry is a valuable management tool for HR leaders to adopt for talent management training.

How People Analytics Are Improving on Business Personality Science

Understanding variations in human behavior can help leaders support teams with fewer conflicts and a more productive exchange of ideas. While the use of big data for behavioral people analytics is relatively new, the idea of categorizing personalities is much older. In fact, the idea of assigning categories to human behavior dates back to at least 450 B.C., which HrmForce states is "when Empedocles noticed that he could group people's behavior into four categories which he labeled earth, water, fire, and air."

Despite the fact that people analytics is evolving, there's still value in individual-level personality assessments. The Guardian reports that 60 to 70 percent of job candidates in the U.S. and U.K. receive some kind of behavioral assessment in the hiring process to determine culture fit. There are few silver bullets in talent management, and personality assessments definitely aren't without controversy. Using any form of technology for decision-making can remove some risks and introduce others including more potential for bias or fallible recommendations from incomplete algorithms and data.

Human behavior can be one of the most complex aspects of people management. For HR leaders who understand the limitations of personality science as a predictive tool for performance and control against bias, there's a lot to be gained in objective understanding of human behavior. Smarter algorithms, powered by machine learning, are deepening hiring and individual insight algorithms and making room for the latest iteration in the ancient Greek method of personality science — team chemistry assessments.

The Value of Business Chemistry Science in a Global Workforce

Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports that ineffective business performance is too often the result of "leaders who fail to effectively tap diverse work styles and perspectives — even at the senior-most levels." Deloitte's Business Chemistry assessment is an approach to understanding how personality traits and behaviors manifest in the workplace. Much like Greek philosopher Empedocles' approach, Business Chemistry uses four basic personality types. The difference is that it's designed for HR and managers to understand team interactions and productivity.

HBR reports there was a use case for limited personality types, based on observation that many executives who had completed Myers-Briggs had difficulty remembering their results. The goal of Business Chemistry and other team-focused personality science applications is to give management highly-practical tools for thinking in terms of how personalities could complement each other, to limit inherent friction in diverse team interactions.

Transforming Team Chemistry Data Into Smarter Management

Even as organizations adopt incredibly complex algorithms for talent management, there's unlikely to be a tool that perfectly captures all of the nuanced cultural and individual factors that drive human behavior in a team setting. However, there's still value in science-based assessments for building a productive, diverse-driven workforce. The Predictive Index, another analytic tool for team interaction assessment, states that much of this value is "a common language" between HR, leadership and team members for better collaboration. With a data-driven understanding of how motivations interact at work, HR leaders can work to ensure that friction leads to innovation instead of disruptive interpersonal conflicts.

Want to learn more? Download the ADP report: Take Your Talent Strategy Further: Connecting People and Work

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