Researchers at Google analyzed data from executives, team leads and team members to determine the key dynamics of what makes a successful team.
Importantly, the Google research team found that the best teams were effective because they worked together well, regardless of who was on the team.
Here are the 5 qualities that make a great team:
1. Psychological Safety
3. Structure and Clarity
1. Psychological Safety
Psychological safety is about environment. It’s about creating a safe culture in which team members feel “safe” enough to take an interpersonal risk. Encouraging team members to voice their opinions, even if it goes against the group, can be risky. However, teams that exhibit high psychological safety encourage risk-taking. Plus, when team members take risks, they aren’t viewed as disruptive, disrespectful or incompetent.
When teams promote psychological safety, there is a free flow of ideas, which can lead to better outcomes. You can ask for help without fear of retribution or adverse impact to your reputation. Team members feel comfortable asking questions and sharing opinions, which can lead to healthy debate and help the team thrive.
Dependability is about accountability. It’s about reliability. It’s about trust.
When everyone on the team is accountable, reliable and trustworthy, the team succeeds.
How many teams have you been on when one person shirks responsibility? We’ve all seen it before. A team can crumble when even one person can’t be trusted to do the work. On a highly dependable team, every team member can trust that high quality work will be produced on time.
3. Structure and clarity
All teams need structure and clarity, so long as rules are not too rigid that they stifle progress.
When teams have structure and clarity, there are specific and clear performance standards and directives for the team to work and achieve. With these inputs, team members understand their function, purpose, expectations and performance objectives.
With structure and clarity, specificity is key. Team members will thrive when they have goals that are clear, specific and transparent so they know what is expected of them. For example, at Google, Objectives and Key Results (OKR’s) are a management tool used to establish and communicate both long-term and short-term goals. Some teams even establish a common vocabulary to start introducing norms that reflect the team identity.
No one wants to work in a job or organization without meaning or purpose. So, you can imagine how a team member feels working on a team without either meaning or purpose. There are many ways to create meaning within the construct of a team. For example, you can create meaning in the work itself or in the final product.
Google found that other ways to create meaning in work include creating financial security, supporting one’s family, helping the team succeed, or exhibiting self-expression.
Work is about creating value and impact for others. Team members want to know – from their subjective perspective – that the work they are doing is creating impact. Also, team members want to feel that the team’s work is helping to advance the organization’s overall goals, mission and impact. Reserving time for each team member to reflect on their impact can be a valuable exercise to further purpose and meaning as well.