Google has been studying teamwork in the company since 2012. The results, entitled “Aristotle Project”, were published in 2016.
The internal Google researchers examined 180 teams in the company and analyzed over 250 team attributes in more than 200 interviews.
The final results revealed five key characteristics that enabled the teams to achieve high levels of success. In order of importance they are:
* Psychological security
* Structure and clarity
* A hit
They found that these five factors were more important to the functioning of the teams than the skills of the individual team members.
Now I assume that the results that bring these five traits to the fore require a certain level of competence.
Most of the articles I’ve read that have summarized the results of Google teamwork have stopped listing just the features and talking little about how they can be achieved with what I posted above. Which, if you’ve ever tried, isn’t easy.
This is important as most employees in most small businesses are hired based on their expected skills in the fulfillment of the role for which they are being hired.
BUT the things that are usually the most stressful in small businesses are not a team member’s competence in how well they do their job. The big problems that usually arise are the way these individual employees interact and interact with their co-workers.
Often times, teamwork in small businesses is less formal and more of a basic requirement for functionality to get things done in an environment with a limited number of employees.
When working with small businesses over the past 15 years to improve communication, collaboration, and teamwork, these five characteristics are often the cause of the biggest discourse.
Unfortunately, small business owners are unaware of these factors.
You accuse unmotivated employees with poor attitudes for not contributing to the collaborative work environment.
In reality, the cause is a work environment that lacks these five factors.
Four of the characteristics, reliability, structure and clarity, meaning and effect, are almost self-explanatory and relatively easy to integrate.
Psychological security On the other hand, I’ve found them to be difficult to find in most work environments.
On Google’s internal “revision” website, where the results and recommendations are published, the psychological safety is explained as follows:
“An individual’s perception of the consequences of an interpersonal risk or the belief that a team is safe Willingness to take risks given the fact that they are viewed as ignorant, incompetent, negative, or disturbing. In a team with high psychological security, teammates feel safe to take risks with their team members. You are confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish someone who admits a mistake, asks a question, or offers a new idea. “
This is rarely the case.
If so, a business thrives.
The challenge in creating psychological security is that individual personality traits and self-esteem affect it.
Interestingly, everyone wants and needs psychological security in order to thrive. Without them, people would be paralyzed from saying or doing something.
Yet few of us participate in the creation. Most of our behaviors tend to undermine this.
You have likely seen situations where people are publicly judged on their opinions and ideas, or are publicly called upon without their knowledge or consent when they fail to keep a promise or keep an obligation.
Here are three ways leaders can promote psychological safety that will lead to higher levels of teamwork and collaboration in their work environment:
- Have a conversation with the team about “psychological safety” and develop an understanding of what it is and why it is important. Then have the team exchange ideas to make it part of their team experience and create and commit to a “team agreement”.
- Stand up for ABC Communication, “always be curious”. If your team is committed to always being curious, the first answer will be a question that tries to understand rather than show judgment.
- Have each team member check you in privately to ensure they can participate at a level they are comfortable with, and encourage additional ideas to make it even better. Then bring the anonymous collective ideas to the team for discussion and refinement of the “team contract”.
What experiences have you had with psychological safety in your work environment? What strategies did you take to create it? Leave a comment below and let’s start a conversation.