What makes a team most productive?

first_imgFor decades’ researchers have looked for the factors that cause certain individuals to be more effective than others in the workplace.  They have analyzed everything from personality traits to team composition to email patterns to emotional intelligence in an attempt figure out how to make workers more productive and efficient. Most of this research has been undertaken by university professors and published in academic journals, leaving industry and consultants to translate and apply the research to the real world.  However, Google, as well as other large organizations, conducts workplace studies themselves through their People Operations (HR) department.  These studies are designed to explore ways to improve their organizational capacity and drive efficiency and increase profits. Google’s first workplace study, Project Oxygen released in 2014, explored management traits that differentiated their top performers. What they found was not shocking by any means, however it was instantly applied to the workplace resulting in increased efficiency, employee satisfaction, and profits.  The discovery that the more effective managers empowered their employees, stayed away from micromanaging, and were good coaches, is now part of many MBA curricula and has been adopted by organizations around the world.  Googles next research endeavor set out to explore how to build the perfect team.Research on teams and teaming has been formally conducted for well over 50 years.  However, with the abundance of data available today, and the realization by organizations across industries that teams in the workplace far outperform the old cubicle dwellers, the pace and volume of this research has exploded over the past decade or two. The majority of research on teams comes out of the university labs of the business and psychology schools across the country.  A recent study by faculty members from the University of Illinois and Notre Dame University, found by studying 67 teams across six different companies that employees in teams perform best when they know their work will have a positive impact on their colleagues, customers and communities.  Although this research is compelling, it is difficult to see how it can be directly applied to enhance teamwork within an organization.  Driven by the fact that virtually all of Googles over 60,000 employees work on at least one project team, and the realization that the majority of work today across industries is done in teams, some studies showing numbers greater than 75%, Google set out to find a practical solution to what makes one team better than another, and looked for teamwork factors that a manager could create or at least effect.The Google research team interviewed over 250 employees on more than 180 teams over a two-year period. Although they were looking for, and expected to find, patterns revealing the perfect combination of individual traits and and skills necessary for efficient teamwork, they could find no such patterns. What they found surprised them; they discovered that how the team structures their work, how the team members interact, and how they view their contributions to the organization, were much more important than the skill set or qualifications of the team members.  Their most important discovery was that the number one driving factor of what makes a team more productive, is a feeling of psychological safety among the team members.  The willingness to take risks, throw out new ideas, and listen to diverse opinions, without any risk, was paramount to being a high performing team.  Other important factors included dependability of the team, team structure and role clarity, and the meaning and impact of the work being conducted.  The finding that teams care about the impact and meaningfulness of their work is in line with the university-based research cited above.We can all agree that teamwork matters in the ultra-competitive contemporary global marketplace.  Just putting a group of people in a room and telling them they are a team is a recipe for disaster. Teams must be carefully built, monitored, and coached (not micro-managed). Teams and team members must be provided with the education and environment to excel and be successful.  Managers and leaders must understand this as well as the key factors to creating and maintain a successful team effort in order to take full advantage of the advantages of working in teams. 70SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Stuart R. Levine Founded in 1996, Stuart Levine & Associates LLC is an international strategic planning and leadership development company with focus on adding member value by strengthening corporate culture.SL&A … Web: www.Stuartlevine.com Detailslast_img

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