Google is not only one of the wealthiest, and most influential businesses in America, it also consistently ranks at the top of the list whenever someone decides to compile the best companies to work for. The tech titan offers benefits to its employees that go a bit beyond what perks most American workers are used to. Google strives to keep their 60,000 employees happy because they believe happy workers are good workers. The company has also just concluded an internal study that proves the same can be said for entire teams.
Rooting out bad seeds, or knaves as Erich Schmidt calls them, is an essential part of keeping the work environment positive and in turn productive. What about when the bad seeds are no longer a problem? What makes a successful team successful? That is the question Google’s People Operations (their version of a Human Resources department) decided to find the answer to by interviewing over 200 employees across more than 180 teams, and analyzing 250 different attributes. What they learned, surprise them.
What the researchers found was that “Who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions.” That is to say, the capabilities of the individuals mattered less than the capabilities of the entire team. The researchers were able to break out five key dynamics that set apart Google’s most successful teams. These key attributes are psychological safety, dependability, structure & clarity, meaning of work, and impact of work. Psychological safety asks if team members are able to take risks without worrying about being embarrassed. Dependability examines if team members count on each other to do high-quality work on time. Structure & clarity looks whether goals, roles, and execution plans on the team are clear. Meaning of work is where ensuring members of the team are working on something that is personally important. And finally, Impact of work: Does the team fundamentally believe that the work they’re doing matters?
In 2014, Google released the results of a similar internal study called Project Oxygen. That study examined what makes a good manager, and its findings are now being taught by universities and implemented by companies around the globe. Google has used the previous study as well as the more current one to reshape its training, reviews and standards. It goes to show that at a little self-awareness can go a long way. Well, at Google anyway.