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Guide: Understand team effectiveness

Help teams take action

The five key dynamics of effective teams that the Google researchers identified are rooted in the wider world of team performance research. Whether you’re coding at Google, riffing in a writers room, preparing for a trip to Mars, or skating in a hockey rink - teams are essential to the work experience and output. At Google, now that the Project Aristotle team has identified what makes for an effective team at Google, they’re conducting research to figure out how take the next steps to create, foster, and empower effective teams.

Whatever it is that makes for effective teams in your organization, and it may be different from what the Google researchers found, consider these steps to share your efforts:

  1. Establish a common vocabulary - Define the team behaviors and norms you want to foster in your organization.
  2. Create a forum to discuss team dynamics - Allow for teams to talk about subtle issues in safe, constructive ways. An HR Business Partner or trained facilitator may help.

  3. Commit leaders to reinforcing and improving - Get leadership onboard to model and seek continuous improvement can help put into practice your vocabulary.

Here are some tips for managers and leaders to support the behaviors the Google researchers found important for effective teams. These are based on external research and Google’s own experience:

Psychological safety:

Dependability:

  • Clarify roles and responsibilities of team members.
  • Develop concrete project plans to provide transparency into every individual’s work.
  • Talk about some of the conscientiousness research.

Structure & Clarity:

  • Regularly communicate team goals and ensure team members understand the plan for achieving them.
  • Ensure your team meetings have a clear agenda and designated leader.
  • Consider adopting Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) to organize the team’s work.

Meaning:

  • Give team members positive feedback on something outstanding they are doing and offer to help them with something they struggle with.
  • Publicly express your gratitude for someone who helped you out.
  • Read the KPMG case study on purpose.

Impact:

  • Co-create a clear vision that reinforces how each team member’s work directly contributes to the team’s and broader organization's goals.
  • Reflect on the work you're doing and how it impacts users or clients and the organization.
  • Adopt a user-centered evaluation method and focus on the user.
Explore more in Teams.

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