When putting teams together, who do you pick to be on the team? The individual with the highest IQ? Someone with the greatest expertise? Or, the most motivated to succeed?
New studies will have you rethink the characteristics of great team members, allow you to have effective and innovative teams, and improve employee retention and company performance.
Our team kick off workshop and team facilitation will lead to more productive, innovative, and successful teams.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology completed a study on the characteristics of the smartest teams in 2015.[i] Contrary to popular belief, smarter teams were not based on who had the highest intelligence, as measured by I. Q. tests, the teams with the most extroverts, or the teams whose members reported being the most motivated to succeed.
Instead, the smartest teams had these characteristics:
- Members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than having one or two people who dominated.
- Members scored higher on a test called “Reading the Mind in the Eyes,” which measures how well people can discern complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.
- Teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. The authors explain that this last effect was partially due to women, on average, being better at “mind reading” (that is, reading emotions) than men.
Another MIT study compared the performance of physically co-located teams with that of virtual teams. They found that the same three characteristics above applied to the better-performing teams, regardless of whether they were co-located or virtual. Teams that had members who communicated effectively, participated equally and were good at reading emotions did better.
These findings match research published in The Harvard Business Review in 2012.[ii]Researchers at the MIT Human Dynamics Laboratory used electronic badges on team members to collect data on their individual communication behavior, including tone of voice, body language, whom they spoke with and how often.
Here is what the researchers concluded: “With remarkable consistency, the data confirmed that communication indeed plays a critical role in building successful teams. In fact, we found patterns of communication to be the most important predictor of a team’s success. Not only that, but they are as significant as all the other factors-individual intelligence, personality, skill, and the substance of discussions—combined.”
The researchers found the elusive group dynamics that characterize high performing teams. They are energy, creativity, and shared commitment. The secret wasn’t what the team communicated but how they did it.
In the Fall of 2017, Google’s People Operations published the results of its study on team effectiveness. As with previous studies, they found that group dynamics and especially the key dynamic of psychological safety (trust) was most important.
The People Operations analysis conducted more than 200 interviews with their employees and analyzed 250-plus attributes they identified from more than 180 active Google teams. They compared high performing teams with low performing teams.
According to Google’s rework website, they discovered that “who is on the team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributors”[iii].
They discovered five key dynamics that set successful teams apart from the rest:
- Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
- Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?
- Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
- Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
- Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?
According to Google, psychological safety was far and away the most important of the five dynamics found, and it is the underpinning of the other four.
The Google post explains that new team members are all reluctant to engage in behaviors that could negatively influence how others perceive their competence, awareness, and positivity. Although this kind of self-protection is natural, it is detrimental to effective teamwork. Conversely, the safer team members feel with one another, the more likely they are to admit mistakes, partner, and take on new roles.
The Google post goes on to explain another significant finding:
Individuals on teams with higher psychological safety are less likely to leave Google. They are more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates. They bring in more revenue, and they are rated as effective twice as often by executives.
The results of these studies underscore the importance of group dynamics and the structure, meaning, and impact of the team’s work for team success.
New Team Kickoff Workshop — One and Two Day Options
This workshop is designed to kick off new project and enterprise-wide teams to jump-start their problem solving and innovation.
This workshop is designed to overcome the hurdles and mistakes many organizations make when starting critically important teams. Many teams are doomed to struggle because they don’t fully understand the problem they are to solve and the importance of their work for the success of the company.
Many team members never learn to trust each other and therefore never are comfortable taking risks. In addition, many teams don’t understand their goals, the resources they can call upon, their key milestones, the roles among the members of the team, how to effectively raise and resolve conflict, and how to make decisions.
In this workshop, the team leader and team members will learn:
- The vision or end state the executive had in mind for them when they were created and how their work will impact the company and its customers
- The end goal and they will define the step goals which need to be attained to reach their end goal by the deadline
- The roles of each team member
- The operating norms for the team to communicate with each other, for meetings, and to store and access critical materials and documents
- What resources or experts from the company or from outside the company that are available to assist the team in resolving issues and being innovative
- How to constructively problem solve, resolve conflict and make decisions that stick
- When and how to quickly escalate issues, so the team does not bog down
This training is offered in one or a two-day version.
Day 1: The team will build a shared alignment to company’s vision, strategies and long-term outcomes, and the team’s role in achieving those outcomes. The team will establish goals, operating norms, and decision rights.
Day 2: Each team member will go through the Skills Deployment Inventory(SDI), which will help each team member, and the team as a whole, learn their communication styles during normal circumstances and when they are under stress. This training also provides essential steps to diffuse and resolve the conflict. During this training, team members will learn the strengths and weaknesses of their communication styles and how it positively and negatively impacts each other and the team as a whole.
The result will be a more harmonious, trusting team that is better aligned with their common goals and produces higher results.
The administration of the SDI requires attendees to complete the assessment two weeks before the training to allow for the results to be analyzed, delivered, and used during the second day of the workshop.