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The Five Keys to a Successful Team

We're featuring an article from the re:Work blog by Julia Rozovsky who was part of a group of analysts from Google's People Operations who set out to answer the question, “What makes a Google team effective?” The researchers were pretty confident that they would find the perfect mix of individual traits and skills necessary for a stellar team. They were dead wrong!

Highlights from the Article

Who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions. There are five key dynamics that set successful teams apart from other teams:

1. Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?

2. Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?

3. Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?

4. Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?

5. Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?

Psychological safety is far and away the most important of the five dynamics - it’s the underpinning of the other four. How could that be? Taking a risk around your team members seems simple. But remember the last time you were working on a project. Did you feel like you could ask what the goal was without the risk of sounding like you’re the only one out of the loop? Or did you opt for continuing without clarifying anything, in order to avoid being perceived as someone who is unaware?

Turns out, we’re all reluctant to engage in behaviors that could negatively influence how others perceive our competence, awareness, and positivity. Although this kind of self-protection is a natural strategy in the workplace, it is detrimental to effective teamwork. On the flip side, the safer team members feel with one another, the more likely they are to admit mistakes, to partner, and to take on new roles. And, most notably, individuals on teams with higher psychological safety are less likely to leave the organization, they’re more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates, they bring in more revenue, and they’re rated as effective twice as often by other leaders.

Read the full article here.

The Gifted Perspective

Amy Edmondson’s work on the concept of psychological safety is particularly enlightening to everyone who is a member of a team (and that’s pretty much all of us)! At a time when there is a high level of uncertainty and a growing need for interdependence, it’s critically important to create psychologically safe workplaces. For that to happen we must frame work as a learning challenge, not just an issue of execution, and each team member must acknowledge their own fallibility and model constant curiosity (and even some vulnerability). This can be a challenging mindset to adopt in many workplaces where performance anxiety and self-protection are prevalent. But it is possible!

Are you ready to build a successful team characterized by a high level of psychological safety? Contact us today about individual leadership coaching or our Teams That Talk™ coaching approach!


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