At ACE, one of our core values is collaboration. Teams are made up of individuals and individuals are driven by different motivators. Whether that’s serving their organization, supporting their family or simply working on projects they think are cool. You’ll need to learn about the people on your team, in order to best determine how to motivate everyone at the same time.
A few years ago, researchers at Google set out to identify the dynamics of effective teams. And through this research, they identified five factors that have an impact on team effectiveness. In order of importance, those five factors are: psychological safety, dependability, structure and clarity, meaning and impact.
Let’s break these down.
Let’s start with psychological safety, which is the number one factor that impacts team effectiveness. Here’s how Google researchers define it: Psychological safety refers to an individual’s perception, of the consequences of taking an Interpersonal risks. In other words, they believe it’s safe to take risks within their team and they don’t risk being labeled as ignorant, incompetent, negative or disruptive. On teams with high psychological safety, teammates feel comfortable taking risks around fellow team members, seeking differing opinions and resolving interpersonal conflict when it comes up.
Google’s researchers explain it this way. On dependable teams, members are reliable and complete their work on time. Creating a dependable team requires the combination of setting, negotiating and meeting expectations. Yes, your team needs to meet the expectations set for them. At the same time, you as a project manager need to establish a two way relationship with your team. You have to be able to clearly communicate expectations and ensure that the team feels comfortable negotiating with you when needed.
Structure and clarity
Next, we have a structure and clarity. Here’s how our researchers define it. Structure and clarity refers to an individual’s understanding of job expectations, knowledge of how to meet those expectations and the consequences of their performance. Each team member has a clear sense of their individual role, plans and goals. And they have a sense of how their work affects the group.
Meaning, also impacts team effectiveness. Google’s researchers defined meaning in this context, as finding a sense of purpose either in the work itself or in the results of that work. For example, your teammates might find meaning in supporting themselves financially, helping the team reach its goals or wanting their products to reach a new community of users.
And finally, we have impact. Google researchers define impact as the belief that the results of one’s work matters and creates change. It can be challenging for people to notice how their work can shift an entire ecosystem forward.
Part of your role as a leader, is to help individual teammates identify how they drive impact both within the team and beyond it. Project tracking can be a helpful tool for visualizing progress and impact.
To recap, Google’s researchers identified psychological safety, dependability, structure and clarity, meaning and impact as the top five factors that have an impact on team effectiveness.