The performance of the team is one of the critical factors for a successful project. Google conducted a study to find out what makes the team effective. They used extensive data and rigorous analysis. The study took over two years, consisted of more than 200 double-blind interviews, and 250 attributes. Through this process, they busted a few performance myths and realized their assumptions were wrong. They were surprised to find that the traits of each team member are not as important as how the members interact, structure their work and view their contributions.
First, let’s agree on the definition of a team. The organization hierarchy by default determines workgroups. However, teams are highly interdependent. They plan, solve problems, make decisions, and review their progress. Members need each other to complete the project, and they demonstrate that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Now let’s define Effectiveness. Each stakeholder has a different view of performance. For instance, team members look at the team culture, while executives look at the production numbers. However, for a software developing team, producing more lines of code is not necessarily a good thing. Therefore in this study, Google measured effectiveness from four different perspectives.
- Executive evaluation of the team
- Team leader evaluation of the team
- Team member evaluation of the team
- Sales performance against quarterly quota
Using 35 different statistical models on hundreds of variables, Google discovered the following five fundamental dynamics that differentiate high-performing teams. They found that who is on the team is far less important than how the team works together.
1. Psychological Safety
Each team member needs to know that they can take risks on the team without feeling insecure, ignorant, incompetent or embarrassed. They want to feel comfortable asking questions, offering ideas, and admitting mistakes.
Team members want to feel that they can count on each other to do high-quality work on time. They want to know that every member is accountable and responsible.
3. Structure and Clarity
Individuals want to clearly understand their roles, the job expectations, the plan, and the process to accomplish those expectations. There should be goals for the team and also for each member. These goals must be specific, challenging and achievable.
4. Meaning of Work
Members want to feel valuable, and they need a purpose in their work. Each person may look for a different type of significance, such as financial security, helping a good cause, or the pride of completing a project as a team.
5. Impact of Work
In addition to the meaning above, team members want to know that their work is contributing to the organization’s objectives. Therefore they want to work on projects that are highly visible.
How many of these five dynamics do you have on your team? Congratulations if you answered “Yes” to all the five keys above! That means that you are on a high-performing team. If not, don’t lose hope. These fundamentals will help you figure out where to focus, how to improve, and a way to talk and motivate your teammates in a structured way.
About the Author: Art Torres is an IT Quality Champion and Change Agent in the Finance and Insurance industries. Builds high-performance, customer-centric teams that enable swift completion of strategic projects with zero critical defects; resulting in higher profits and enhanced customer and employee satisfaction. Improves processes by developing and implementing policies and procedures, best practices, standards, and methodologies.
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