On its Re:Work blog this week, Google presented the results of an internal study its People Operations (HR) department conducted over the last two years. The study interviewed 200 Google employees across 180 teams to find out which traits are common among the most successful teams at Google. Contrary to what might be expected, the study shows that it's not the individual talent of the people in the group that determines the success of the whole, but a general dynamic.
From the Re:Work blog:
We were pretty confident that we'd find the perfect mix of individual traits and skills necessary for a stellar team -- take one Rhodes Scholar, two extroverts, one engineer who rocks at AngularJS, and a PhD. Voila. Dream team assembled, right?
We were dead wrong. Who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions. So much for that magical algorithm.
The company outlined five key traits that successful groups all seem to possess.
Psychological safety -- This trait describes how the team feels about risk-taking. If an individual wants to branch out and try a new method, he or she feels that the team will support the experiment. As analyst Julia Rozovsky explains on the Re:Work blog, psychological safety is "far and away the most important of the five dynamics we found -- it's the underpinning of the other four."
Dependability -- Team members trust each other to meet deadlines and to also meet a high bar of expected excellence.
Structure and clarity -- who reports to whom and why? Successful teams have clear roles, plans, and goals.
Meaning -- Building off number 3's point about structure, each individual feels they have a personal stake or interest in the project succeeding. The work means something to them and helps them further their careers as well.
- Impact of Work -- The magic ingredient: purpose. Team members genuinely feel that the work they are doing matters.