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The Water Cooler

A blog of fresh ideas and findings from organizational leaders and researchers on how they’re making work better, shared regularly.

How Google thinks about team effectiveness

Filed under: Teams
How Google thinks about team effectiveness
Learn about Google’s internal research effort to understand what makes an effective team, and what your organization can do to build great teams.

What sets your best teams apart from the rest? Speaking at an event, people analyst Julia Rozovsky discussed what an internal research team discovered about building effective teams at Google.

The research team imagined that a rockstar team would largely depend on the type of people on the team. To their surprise, a team’s effectiveness is determined mostly by how team members interact with each other. Foundational was the idea of psychological safety which refers to the level of trust among team members. On top of psychological safety, the team found effective teams also needed dependability, structure and clarity, meaning, and impact.

Rozovsky shared five questions that an effective team at Google should be able to affirm:

  1. Can we, as a team, take a risk without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
  2. Can we count on each other to deliver high-quality results on time?
  3. Are our goals, roles, and execution plans clear?
  4. Are we working on something that is personally meaningful to each of us?
  5. Do we fundamentally believe that the work that we’re doing matters?

Teams that could answer “yes” to all five questions were disproportionately more likely to be rated effective by their executives, team leaders, and team members.

To learn more about team effectiveness, check out the re:Work guide Understand team effectiveness for the full story on Google's team effectiveness research as well as tools to help teams foster psychological safety.