Jobs and the Future of Work

Google’s surprising discovery about effective teams

Stéphanie Thomson
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Google has done extensive research into the skills and character traits of a good manager. But what about the rest of the workforce? For any large organization to thrive, entire teams need to gel together to succeed.

In 2013, the internet giant decided to explore this issue. After all, of its 37,000 staff members, only 6,000 of them were managers or directors. Were the other 31,000 staff members as effective as the people leading them?

Over a period of two years, a group of researchers at the company analysed more than 180 teams and interviewed hundreds of employees. Their mission? Finding the recipe behind the dream team: “We were pretty confident that we’d find the perfect mix of individual traits and skills necessary for a stellar team – take one Rhodes Scholar, two extroverts, one engineer who rocks at AngularJS, and a PhD,” they explained on their blog, re:Work.

Their findings could not have been further from their initial assumptions. It turns out that the secret to a high-performing team lies less in the individuals that make it up and more in the wider team dynamics: “Who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions.” High-performing teams, they found, almost always displayed five characteristics:

high-performing team

According to their research, by far the most important team dynamic is psychological safety – the ability to be bold and take risks without worrying that your team members will judge you.

Have you read?
8 skills Google looks for in its managers
Is this personality type more successful in the workplace?

Author: Stéphanie Thomson is an editor at the World Economic Forum 

Image: The new Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

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