- Some really smart people at Google studied 180 teams as part of “Project Aristotle,” named after the philosopher’s quote “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”
- It was a quest to find what discerns the very best, most successful teams
- Their work yielded an initial big surprise
- The study’s hypothesis was that the best teams were made up of the best collection of individuals, presumably with a set of discerning traits
- No distinct pattern could be identified for individual traits that drove overall team performance
- Instead, they discovered it wasn’t about who was on the team, but how that team worked together; more specifically, what the group norms of that team were
- Here are the 5 questions to which the most accomplished teams can answer an emphatic “Yes!”.
1. Can we, as a team, take a risk without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
2. Can we count on each other to deliver high-quality results on time?
3. Are our goals and roles clear?
Teams need a certain amount of structure and clarity. Period. Each member needs to understand “their role on the assembly line” and that of their co-workers. The team leader can ensure this by having group discussions about roles. In this way, no one individual can be dismissed because other people don’t understand how or what he/she contributes.
4. Are we working on something that is personally meaningful to each of us?
We find meaning in things that make emotional connections and are remembered, and thus matter. When we’re emotionally connected to our work, when it matters to us, we derive meaning from it. In fact, we hunger for such meaning.
5. Do we fundamentally believe the work we’re doing matters?
This is about impact. Does everyone feel they’re contributing to an organizational goal that matters? Leaders of the most successful teams make sure every team member understands how their work fits with the mission of that team. The most successful teams I’ve been on had leaders that took the time and effort to connect the dots between each team member’s work and the goals of the organization.