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What makes a great team?


Google’s Project Aristotle research evaluated decades of academic research and studied hundreds of teams at Google to identify the dynamics of effective teams. Here’s what they found:

While each team is different, there are a number of common factors that go together to deliver a high level of performance.

Number one is Psychological Safety: a safe, trusting environment where team members feel comfortable and confident enough to take risks and show vulnerability without feeling insecure or embarrassed.

Next comes Dependability: you need to be able to count on your colleagues to get things done on time and to a high standard. At the same time, Autonomy is important: people in high-performing teams generally have the authority and discretion to do their best work without being micromanaged.

Hand in hand with this goes Equality: each person’s ideas build on those of others, and it doesn’t matter who contributed what. Everybody takes equal ownership of success and failure.

Structure & Clarity are both important to keep everyone on the same page and pulling in the right direction, therefore clear goals and roles are essential. Great teams are clear on everyone’s strengths, weaknesses and special skills, and recognise and celebrate the diverse personalities within the group.

A great way to achieve this is through focusing on brilliant Communication: proactive and clear communication helps team members work together effectively by eliminating misunderstandings, information gaps and duplicated effort.

Finally, and perhaps most important, comes Meaning & Impact: team members benefit greatly from a clear sense that they are working on something personally meaningful, that matters and creates change.

Key to keeping a team motivated in this area is a sense of momentum, a feeling of clear progress made on important projects.

How does your team rate on each of these elements? Make some time to get together and score your team on each area out of 10. Where is the team strong and where is there room for improvement? What actions can you take to build on your scores?

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