What makes a great team in the workplace? It's such an essential question for anyone who wants to put together a group of like-minded, high achieving individuals and get the fantastic results your business needs! Luckily the folks at Google HQ spent years studying their most productive teams to figure out precisely what the magic formula is!
A few years ago, Google went on a quest to build the perfect team.
The goal was to figure out why some teams perform well while other teams stumble. Researchers code-named the study Project Aristotle, a tribute to the philosopher's famous quote: "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
First, researchers identified 180 teams to study, including both high- and low-performing teams. They then pored through the data and interviewed hundreds of executives, team leads, and team members.
And here's where it gets interesting:
Executives and team members differed vastly as to how to measure effectiveness. Executives cared much more about results (e.g., sales numbers or product launches), while individual team members said that "team culture was the most important measure of team effectiveness."
It does make sense that what an executive might view as a sign of a great team might differ from those who are actually team members.
On the surface, this may not seem surprising. But it actually reveals a major insight:
To build a successful team, you must find the balance between results and culture.
Why is this so important?
Think about it: You could have the highest performing team in the world, but if the individual team members don't feel comfortable, that team won't last very long. Individuals will seek out a better environment; so, any success the team enjoys will be short-lived.
What if team members feel they enjoy a great culture but produce subpar results? Obviously, this isn't sustainable either. The company will lose money, and the team will eventually break up.
But what if the company finds a way to make individual team members feel safe and trusted while motivating them to achieve the best possible results? Ah, now you've got the best of both worlds.
So what are the five factors that researchers found mattered most? Here are the first few!
1. Psychological safety
"In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members," wrote the researchers. "They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea."
Simply put, great teams thrive on trust. (Here's a sample of nine habits and behaviors you can practice to build trust between yourself and others.)
"On dependable teams," wrote the researchers, "members reliably complete quality work on time (versus the opposite--shirking responsibilities)."
It's common nowadays for people to break an agreement or commitment when they feel like it. When team members consistently deliver work past deadline, not only does it affect the work of other team members, it also creates a trickle-down effect, slowly but surely reducing motivation and engagement in others.
In contrast, high standards are contagious. When leaders, managers, and team members prove dependable, others are motivated to follow suit.
3. Structure and clarity
"An individual's understanding of job expectations, the process for fulfilling these expectations, and the consequences of one's performance are important for team effectiveness," the researchers stated. "Goals can be set at the individual or group level, and must be specific, challenging, and attainable."
This is easier said than done. Just think back to your work over the years: Have you ever received an assignment where you thought, "Oh, yeah, that'll be easy," only to find out there was much more involved than you anticipated?
In contrast, teams can improve results simply by teaching proper scope--making clear exactly how much time and effort are needed to achieve a great result.
To find out more about what Google found led to the best and most productive teams in their business, head to Inc.com via the link below to read the full article!