The secret from Google on creating an effective team

Google have conducted an interesting study about the working teams and I will try to briefly retell it. The issue of the effectiveness of teams was indistinct for Google. During their regular survey they revealed that this factor is more important than a “good leader” from the point of view of total productivity. In 2012, they launched the “Project Aristotle” which task was to determine what makes the team truly successful. And Google truly believes in graphs and numbers so If something is not proven mathematically, this does not exist. They even have a whole subdivision called "People Analytics" that is engaged in all possible quantitative researches on the productivity and well-being of employees in order to bring their effectiveness to a new level. Therefore, they have analyzed a huge amount of data, investigated 180 teams, conducted hours and hours of interviews and built dozens of charts and tables within the “Project Aristotle”. The result was surprising for the researchers themselves - the members of the team have no effect on its effectiveness. The researchers have considered all possible factors: personality types and their compatibility, gender, age, education, tendency to introversion or extraversion, the quantity and quality of informal connections, ambitions, types of leadership in a team, etc. No matter how the researchers grouped all these data, they could not find the evidence of company’s line-up to its success. Google had to conduct the study again, and only then the researchers found the answer that they were looking for. This time the focus of the researchers was in group norms, thus the focus has shifted to HOW the team works, not WHO participates in it. In summer, 2015, Google was finally ready to make the results public. With such a quantitative data even the most notorious skeptics believed in it! So, the key success factor of the team is psychological safety, that is, how good people feel in the presence of their team and how open they are to sincerely express their thoughts, ideas, and feelings. This is influenced by 2 aspects:

  • In the team there is an unwritten rule that everyone speaks for an equal amount of time.
  • A high level of empathy among team members, that is, the ability to determine what other members of the group feel; attention to their feelings and needs.

If such conditions are present in a team, then group intelligence and team results are much higher than just the sum of the results of individual members and the results of other teams in which psychological safety is not present. Excellent conclusion! It is easy to say, but HOW is it possible to accomplish something like that? Where is a good place to start if psychological security in the team is not the best? That is how Google did it: “Project Aristotle” traveled from department to department for 3 months in a row, explaining its findings and advising team leaders, helping them to re-create the positive atmosphere in the team. Though, it is clear that in most cases the leader himself takes the first step towards psychological safety in a team. Therefore, if you are a leader, the first thing to do is to ask yourself, "Do I create the atmosphere of psychological security for my team"? You can read more about the study in the book "Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity" by Charles Duhigg. Are you sure that your employees are full of confidence and empathy?