Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Most Important Element for High-Performing Teams Is This

 Illustration by James Graham, New York Times
Coaching Psychologist Yaron Prywes (@Yaron321) who specializes in innovation led a full-day workshop where among other topics, he shared what Google learned in its quest to build the perfect team. In fact while there are many important elements in building a team, if this one element is in place you are well on your way to success.

The most important element required for high-performing teams is this:

Psychological safety

This is defined as a group culture that has a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. It is a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up. It is a climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.

What this may look like is a meeting where team members speak over one another at times, go on tangents, and socialize before coming back to the agenda. While it may look inefficient to a casual observer, team members actually are speaking as much as they need to and are sensitive to one another's moods and share personal stories and emotions. It is what coaching psychologists like Yaron may call "conversational turn-taking" and "average social sensitivity."

Here are four additional key characteristics of successful teams:
  1. Dependability: Team members get things done on time and meet expectations.   
  2. Structure and clarity: High-performing teams have clear goals, and have well-defined roles within the group. 
  3. Meaning: The work has personal significance to each member. 
  4. Impact: The group believes their work is purposeful and positively impacts the greater good.
The research is called the Aristotle Project and you can read more about it in this New York Times story and this article in Inc.

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