Secrets Of Successful Teamwork

in #success5 years ago (edited)


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Technology companies encourage their employees to work together because studies show that teams stand to innovate faster, achieve higher productivity, see mistake more quickly and find better solutions to problems. Yet, not every team is successful. So how do you build a highly effective team that is capable of delivering expected results? A study ran by Google will shed some light on this question and help us identify trades that all successful teams shared. Several years ago, Google launched the internal project Aristotle, which was a huge data study focused on the teamwork. The tech giant spent millions of dollars tracking 180 separate teams for 3 years.

The Two Factors

The goal of the project was simple, yet ambitious: to find out what are the trades of the highest performing teams? In other words, the wanted to find out why some teams stumble and why others soar. Initially, the research hypothesis was that maybe the best teams has members that just got along better, or there was a healthy mix of personality types, or the team members were friends outside of work. Yet, none of these seemed to matter. The researchers could not find any meaningful patterns in the data. Basically, there was no evidence that a mix of specific personality types or skills or backgrounds made any difference. That whole part of the equation didn’t seem to matter.
As the researchers continued to study the groups, they noticed two behaviors that all of the best teams shared. First, is that the team members spoke in roughly the same proportion. A phenomenon that researchers call: equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking. On some teams, everyone spoke during each task. While on others, leadership shifted among teammates from assignment to assignment. But in each case, at the end of the day, everyone had spoken roughly the same amount. In other words, as long as everyone had a chance to talk, the team did well. But if only one person or small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.

Second, the good teams all had high average social sensitivity. A fancy way of saying they were skilled at reading how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other non verbal cues. One of the easiest way to determine social sensitivity is to show someone photos of a person’s eyes and ask to describe what that person is feeling. An exam known as reading the mind in the eyes. People on successful teams scored about average on this test. They seemed to know when someone was feeling upset or left out. People on less effective teams, in contrast, scored below average. They seemed to be less sensitive towards their colleagues.
By the end of the project, researchers come to the conclusion that is didn’t matter who was on the team. What mattered was how the team members treated each other. Teams where everybody talked and everybody showed respect by listening and paying attention, created a psychologically safe atmosphere inside the team. And psychological safety of each member in the group, had a positive effect on the teams ability to succeed.


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