Google Understanding Team Effectiveness


The researchers found that what really mattered was less about who is on the
team, and more about how the team worked together. In order of importance:

- Psychological safety: Psychological safety refers to an individual’s
perception of the consequences of taking an interpersonal risk or a belief
that a team is safe for risk taking in the face of being seen as ignorant,
incompetent, negative, or disruptive. In a team with high psychological
safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members. They
feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else
for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.

- Dependability: On dependable teams, members reliably complete quality work
on time (vs the opposite - shirking responsibilities).

- Structure and clarity: An individual’s understanding of job expectations,
the process for fulfilling these expectations, and the consequences of one’s
performance are important for team effectiveness. Goals can be set at the
individual or group level, and must be specific, challenging, and attainable.
Google often uses Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to help set and
communicate short and long term goals.

- Meaning: Finding a sense of purpose in either the work itself or the output
is important for team effectiveness. The meaning of work is personal and can
vary: financial security, supporting family, helping the team succeed, or
self-expression for each individual, for example.

- Impact: The results of one’s work, the subjective judgement that your work
is making a difference, is important for teams. Seeing that one’s work is
contributing to the organization’s goals can help reveal impact.


The researchers also discovered which variables were not significantly connected with team effectiveness at Google:

- Colocation of teammates (sitting together in the same office)
- Consensus-driven decision making
- Extroversion of team members
- Individual performance of team members
- Workload size
- Seniority
- Team size
- Tenure