Understanding the dynamics of effective teamwork is becoming ever more important, as businesses face relentless pressure to increase their profitability. Studies, however, consistently and convincingly demonstrate that structuring people into teams may be counterproductive to decision-making since, unless the culture is right, individuals outperform teams much of the time.

In Project Aristotle, Google researchers sought to understand how team composition and dynamics impact team effectiveness. They analysed 180 teams, including a mix of high and low performers, and conducted hundreds of interviews. What they found was that what really mattered was less about who is on the team, and more about how the team worked together.

At the top of Google’s list of the things that matter when it comes to team performance is psychological safety – a concept originating from the work of Amy Edmonson, Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School. What she showed is that people will not give their fullest contribution to their team unless they feel safe. For teams to do well, the people in them MUST be:

  • Unafraid to share their ideas.
  • Willing to challenge and be challenged.
  • Prepared to risk failure.

Only by solving the safety problem can teams maintain the creativity and openness needed to make complex decisions and function effectively today. This article summarises some of the steps Google took in order to do so.

Read the Article: High-Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety. Here’s How to Create It

My Advice

We now live in a world were old styles of leadership are unlikely to achieve better than basic levels of productivity. To be successful, leaders now need to create a team culture within which employees will commit their discretionary effort and bring their full creativity to work. For you to be successful in this area, it is essential that you do everything you can to remove any obstacles that block your team from feeling safe.