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Are you tired of unrealistic solutions to team effectiveness?

We have all read about different methods of improving team effectiveness ranging between monthly goal setting, weekly check ups, standardized feedback reports, hiring more specialized professionals, etc. We have tried them all but do any of them work long-term to build an effective team?

Have you ever thought about the psychological safety status of your team? Read my first post about psychological safety and my personal interest about this topic here.

Google has done the heavy lifting for us and researched the five fundamental dynamics of an effective team. It turns out psychological safety comes out first on the list of highly effective teams.

The researchers focused on the question:
What sets apart our most effective teams from the others? 

Initially, they wanted to find out what the word “effective” actually means in the context of the research. They started out by asking different working groups in Google (executives, team leaders and team members) about the definition of the word. Interestingly enough, all three groups had different answers based on the nature of their work and the output they were focused on in their role. For the executives, the word effectiveness directly translated to results. The team leaders saw effectiveness through the scope of ownership, vision and goals. Lastly, the team members clearly defined effectiveness closely related to team culture. After a great amount of interviews across different business areas and locations, the results were in.

You might be surprised to find out that who is on the team matters much less than expected. The most remarkable outcome is that the amount of top performers in a team and the general intelligence of members emerged as a very poor indicator of team’s effectiveness. From that research, google identified five dynamics that make an effective team and psychological safety is number one!

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Here is how Google researchers describe psychological safety

Psychological safety is about risk-taking and being comfortable with vulnerability. People who don’t feel psychologically safe worry that taking risks will mean they’re seen as ignorant, incompetent, negative or disruptive. Psychological safety means feeling confident about admitting mistakes, asking questions, or offering new ideas.”

According to Google, the best teams create a sense of openness where all team members freely admit their mistakes and bring them up for discussion more often. The overall status of learning and innovation is accelerated and exploring new ideas is a daily hustle. Psychological safety makes teams easier to adapt to change and that even affects the bottom line by more than 15% correspondingly.

The founder of the definition psychological safety, Amy Edmondson, has shared three recommendations to increase team effectiveness:

  1. Frame the work as a learning problem as opposed to an execution problem: From the start, be honest about the areas that are still unclear and invite everybody for their input. Show vulnerability by identifying the future steps with no full certainty. Create an opportunity for team members to be engaging together.

  2. Acknowledge your own fallibility: No one is perfect and your team knows it but is this what you speak out to them as whole? Let your team know that you respect their input and that you need it in order to move forward. Improving that dynamic can be done in other areas too, where you can often ask colleagues to speak up and give feedback about your work.

  3. Model curiosity by asking a lot of questions: The team would be compelled to find its voice. Asking questions provides your team with the task of formulating responses while actively participating in conversations and leading the process.

Now you know that how we interact with each other has much bigger value than who are the members on a team. If you are looking for ways to improve the effectiveness, it is best to start with the psychological safety status of your team. Google shares a short questionnaire to give you an idea of how to measure whether you are operating in a positive or negative psychologically safe environment.

The full article about this research is available via this link →

2 comments

Nikki Zavadska _Appfire_
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
August 25, 2023

Indeed - it's always people, not processes. But that's sometimes easily said but hardly done 🥲

Like ElenaK_NemetschekBG likes this
Andy Gladstone
Community Leader
Community Leader
Community Leaders are connectors, ambassadors, and mentors. On the online community, they serve as thought leaders, product experts, and moderators.
August 30, 2023

@ElenaK_NemetschekBG thank you for taking the time to share this wonderful article and information.

Like ElenaK_NemetschekBG likes this
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