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Guide: Understand team effectiveness

Collect data and measure effectiveness

Using input from executives across the globe, the research team identified 180 teams to study (115 project teams in engineering and 65 pods in sales) which included a mix of high- and low-performing teams. The study tested how both team composition (e.g., personality traits, sales skills, demographics on the team) and team dynamics (e.g., what it was like to work with teammates) impact team effectiveness. Ideas were pulled from existing research as well as Google’s own experience with what makes an effective team.

They conducted hundreds of double-blind interviews with leaders to get a sense of what they thought drove team effectiveness. The researchers then looked at existing survey data, including over 250 items from the annual employee engagement survey and gDNA, Google’s longitudinal study on work and life, to see what variables might be related to effectiveness. Here are some sample items used in the study that participants were asked to agree or disagree with:

  • Group dynamics: I feel safe expressing divergent opinions to the team.
  • Skill sets: I am good at navigating roadblocks and barriers.
  • Personality traits: I see myself as someone who is a reliable worker (informed by the Big Five personality assessment).
  • Emotional intelligence: I am not interested in other people’s problems (informed by the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire).

Demographic variables like tenure, level, and location were also collected.

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