Not long ago, we shared this piece by Google People Operations Analyst Julia Rozovsky about what makes a great team at Google. What specific competencies or skill sets characterized the most successful teams? What they found was that it wasn’t a certain type of person or even a certain mix of skills and personality that mattered at all. The most important variables reflected team dynamics, not individual attributes. Specifically, the most successful teams exhibited:
- Psychological safety
- Structure and clarity
- Meaning of work
- Impact of work
Is this surprising to you? It wasn’t to us – it’s the reason we use the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team model for coaching teams. We know that how well a team performs is a function of how well they operate as a team, not who is on the team. In fact, the Five Behaviors of Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability, and Results show strong parallels with the five key team dynamics uncovered by Google researchers.
The first parallel concerns psychological safety, which means that people feel safe taking risks without feeling insecure or embarrassed. In other words, team members trust one another enough to be vulnerable with them. This trust allows there to be healthy conflict around ideas because people feel safe sticking their necks out and saying what needs to be said. Next, consider dependability, structure and clarity, and meaning – team members know what is expected of them, they follow through on those expectations, and they care about the work. These mirror the Five Behaviors concepts of commitment and accountability – when people are able to engage in robust debate, they will be more clear on and more personally invested in decisions, which makes it easier to keep each other on track and accountable. Finally, there is impact – team members’ belief that their work matters, which aligns with the concept of results.
Both of these models have two important features in common – they are focused on the dynamics of a team’s process, and each process element lays the foundation for the next. We have witnessed time and again the power of the Five Behaviors model in turning teams-in-name-only into beautifully functioning teams. Contact us to learn more about how the Five Behaviors experience can ignite performance in your organization’s teams!
“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” –Babe Ruth
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