When different teams are working on a project, some tend to fall behind. This phenomenon has Google hooked as it has spent countless years and a lot money to collect unlimited amounts of data so it could understand it’s employees.
One of its most intriguing quests is Project Aristotle. The team working on this project had the best of Google’s statisticians, organizational psychologists, sociologists and engineers. They aimed at uncovering the secrets of what made a team perfect.
The executives at Google believed that to make a perfect team you had to have the members with the best qualifications. They thought their best engineer, an MBA and a PHD could make a very successful team but this study made them realize that they were all ‘dead wrong’ about it as Julia Rozovsky, a member of the team, pointed out.
Their main focus was on what were mixture of skills, background and traits that the members of the team required for a model team.
They spent 2 years researching on various teams. During the time, 180 teams were observed and more than 200 interviews were conducted and almost 250 of the attributes the teams had were analyzed. Even after all this, no clear pattern discovered by the team, however, the study wasn’t completely useless.
New York times said, “As they struggled to figure out what made a team successful, Rozovsky and her colleagues kept coming across research by psychologists and sociologists that focused on what are known as “group norms” – the traditions, behavioral standards, and unwritten rules that govern how teams function when they gather… Norms can be unspoken or openly acknowledged, but their influence is often profound.”
After some new perspective and combing carefully through all the data, Rozovosky outlined 5 of the main characteristics that they saw in exemplary teams.
Team members tend to work harder and meet expectations when they think they can depend on each other.
- Structure and clarity.
All enhanced teams had clear set of goal they wanted to reach.
The work they were doing was close to their heart.
The group believed their work was purposeful and positively impacted the world for the greater good.
- Psychological Safety.
All of us at some point have felt insecure at voicing our opinion at meetings in the fear of seeming incompetent. But if we knew that what we said would always be appreciated and not be judged, many of our relevant and innovative ideas won’t go to waste. It would create a safe zone for the team members where they can let their guard down. This is call psychological safety and is an important factor for a good performing team.
The data was not very quantitative and the conclusion pointed out that making a dream team was more subjective in reality. Teams which had psychologically safe environments were more likely to reach their goals quickly and effectively.