While local government faces some unique challenges, there’s still much we can learn from the private sector, especially those companies on the cutting edge. Today, I’d like to talk about one of Google’s latest research projects – not on technology, but rather on what makes some teams more than the sum of the individuals’ capacities within them.
Google has a long history in promoting teamwork, and often creates teams with people with different skill-sets who should complement each other to come up with new ideas, processes or technologies. This approach of pulling people out of their silos to work together has resulted in considerable success. Interestingly, though, sometimes this worked spectacularly well, and other times the results were rather ho-hum. In fact, some teams of high-flyers were dismally disappointing, while teams with a wide range of ambition and talent were often more successful.
So Google put a team of researchers together to work out what was making some teams effective while others fell flat. Actually, there was one main finding: how groups work together, and how successful they will be, is determined by the level of psychological safety within the group.
What makes people feel safe within a group is surprisingly simple – behaviours such as taking turns to talk and a sense of empathy between the teammates. Every team member should have a voice and make a contribution. The best teams gave members about equal airtime, regardless of rank in the company or expertise in the area under discussion. The second part of the equation is that people need to feel free to be themselves and able to share what isn’t perfect about themselves within the team. According to Google’s research, humans can’t just focus on efficiency, they need to feel heard and accepted to then contribute fully to the team and the team’s stated goal.
Click the link below to read a New York Times article.