What are the best teams like? This has been a question for years. Many companies have done years of the research to see what contributes to a successful team. Over the years, Google has made this attempt to understand its people. Google wanted to know why some teams excelled over the others. Before this research, the executives believed that building the best teams meant compiling the best people. Julia Rozovsky, Google’s people analytics manager says “we were dead wrong”.
“The strength of the team is not each member, but how well they work together”
They discovered that its how the team works together that matters most, not who is on the team.
About the Project
Google’s Project Aristotle has managed to study 180 Google teams, conducted 200-plus interviews and analyze over 250 different team attributes to study the effectiveness of the team. The research team focused on groups with a truly interdependent working relationship as determined by the team themselves. The research included a team of three to fifty individuals.
With all of this data, the team ran statistical models to understand which of the many inputs collected actually impacted team effectiveness.
The highest performing teams have one thing in common: psychological safety, the belief that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake. Research shows that psychological safety will encourage risk-taking, expressing your views without any kind of fear and foster creativity and the teams tend to be more confident and resilient.
So, what steps can we take to improve the psychological safety at work?
Resolve conflicts by collaborating: As a leader, you will need to try to resolve conflicts which are more collaborative in approach which will make your team open and make you more approachable.
Look for continuous feedback: Asking people for feedback after a potentially tense interaction bridges any gap in the communication, makes your team understand that their opinion is being valued
Measure Psychological Safety: Asking your team, how safe they feel and what could enhance their safety apart from the surveys on psychological safety will result in higher engagement levels and better performances.
Prasad Setty, VP, People Analytics and Compensation at Google shared an interesting finding. Psychological safety had a profound effect on team effectiveness.
while the unsafe teams missed their targets by almost 20%.
Dependability in any team member is crucial to the success of a team. On dependable teams, member reliably completes quality work on time. So, how do we increase dependability in the team?
Mutual Trust and respect: everyone in the team has to trust everyone else to do their Jobs on time, freely share information and make collaborative decisions.Team members need to respect ideas, opinions of each other. Building on trust and respect strengthens overall reliability.
Results: The team’s efforts can only be recognized in form of results. Set hard and fast objectives and hold tight to all the milestones and deadlines. Push the team to exceed the set standards.
Communication: A leader should always make sure that the communication between the team is free-flowing and clear. Clear all the information gap, bottleneck and make sure that your team knows everything they need to in order to maximize the productivity.
Training: Map skills of your teams to understand their passion and proficiency for particular tasks that need to be completed. Having regular training to upskill your teams will help them succeed and be more dependable.
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. Goals can be set at the individual or group level and must be specific, challenging, and attainable. Google often uses Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to help set and communicate short and long-term goals.
Prasad Setty commented an interesting finding: Teams that rated high in dependability did not need high levels of structure and clarity. This is because the team knew how to work cohesively. However, clarity and structure were useful in improving effectiveness in low-dependability teams.
Finding a sense of purpose in either the work itself or the output is important for team effectiveness. For example, knowing how the team’s goals connect to the company’s top company, provides external validation. The ability to see how their work has a significant impact was important.
Effective teams find meaning in their work. Individual’s on the team that is able to internalize the team’s goal. This gave individuals on the team a sense of self-worth and drive.
Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, the world’s #1 leadership expert says that doing meaningful work and enjoying the process simultaneously is the key to a what’s most important in life. Watch his short video here about the 5 most important things in life.
The results of one’s work, the subjective judgment that your work is making a difference, is important for teams. Seeing that one’s work is contributing to the organization’s goals can help reveal impact.
The five keys to a successful Google team
Can you think of anything else that is crucial for a successful team? Like, share or comment below.