Guide: Understand team effectiveness

Identify dynamics of effective teams

With all of this data, the team ran statistical models to understand which of the many inputs collected actually impacted team effectiveness. Using over 35 different statistical models on hundreds of variables, they sought to identify factors that:

  • impacted multiple outcome metrics, both qualitative and quantitative
  • surfaced for different kinds of teams across the organization
  • showed consistent, robust statistical significance

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:

Google's Team Dynamics

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

It’s important to note though that while these variables did not significantly impact team effectiveness measurements at Google, that doesn’t mean they’re not important elsewhere. For example, while team size didn’t pop in the Google analysis, there is a lot of research showing the importance of it. Many researchers have identified smaller teams - containing less than 10 members - to be more beneficial for team success than larger teams (Katzenbach & Smith, 1993; Moreland, Levine, & Wingert, 1996. Smaller teams also experience better work-life quality (Campion et al., 1993), work outcomes (Aube et al., 2011), less conflict, stronger communication, more cohesion (Moreland & Levine, 1992; Mathieu et al., 2008), and more organizational citizenship behaviors (Pearce and Herbik, 2004).

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