What Google Learned about Their Best Performing Teams

Background

Five years ago, Google became focused on building the “perfect team”. During Project Aristotle, as the initiative was named, hundreds of Google’s teams were studied to try to find out why some stumbled yet others soared. Differentiators studied included member personality styles, educational backgrounds, similarity of interests, and whether they had participated in team training courses.

What they found

Behaviors that create psychological safety like expressing empathy toward another person, conversational “turn-taking”, being willing to open up and be honest and active listening are key behaviors that create true team bonding and a sense of safety within the team.

Conclusion

These bonds matter as much at work as anywhere else, they even sometimes matter more in our high stress VUCA world. And, importantly, the teams whose culture provides psychological safety and high cohesion tend to out-perform other Google teams on a regular basis. The Aristotle Study Team believes one of the reasons is because in these teams work becomes fun.

Five Characteristics of the Best Performing Google Teams:

  1. Psychological Safety – “If I make a mistake on our team, it won’t be held against me.”
  2. Dependability – “When my teammates say they’ll do something, they follow through with it.”
  3. Structure & Clarity – “Our team has an effective decision-making process.”
  4. Meaning –” The work I do for our team is meaningful to me.”
  5. Impact – “I understand how our team’s work contributes to the organization’s goals.”

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