Google’s Project Aristotle Reveals Traits of a Successful Team

Successful TeamStudies have found that teams are more productive than individuals working by themselves and that good teamwork can lead to product innovation, better results, and higher job satisfaction. Team meetings are an important tool for managing collaborative tasks and productivity, and team meeting transcription allows managers review the interactions and understand how meetings can be used more effectively to exchange ideas and solve problems. Working efficiently as a team is necessary to ensure that your business achieves its goals and objectives. But what goes into making a successful team? The aim of Google’s Project Aristotle launched in 2012 was to discover this.

Google spent two years studying its teams and identified five traits that successful teams shared – dependability, structure and clarity, meaning, impact, and psychological safety. Here’s how businesses can incorporate these traits into their team.

  • Help employees be dependable and fulfill their commitments: Team members should be empowered to fulfill their responsibilities. Assess whether members have the time and resources required to complete their assignment. The best strategy would be to ask them how long specific components of the task will take. This would depend on their experience levels and other factors. The goal should be to develop an accurate, realistic timeline. It is also important to create an environment in which people can feel free to ask questions when they come across a stumbling block. As a recent article in Business Insider notes, managers of high-performing teams take deliberate steps to set their team up for success by helping employees be dependable.
  • Establish clear team goals, policies, and guidelines: Have a clear goal. This will give your team a mission to accomplish. Make an action plan and ensure that each member know their role. An article in Business Insider notes the significance of the RACI chart to accomplish this. RACI stands for “responsible, accountable, consulted and informed”. Project managers can use the RACI chart effectively to delegate tasks and clarify who is responsible for what. This will help promote faster project completion time, better communication, and more efficient use of resources.
  • Remind your team about the importance of their work: Google’s study found that in successful teams, the work they’re doing has personal significance to each member. Employees are motivated when they know that their hard work will have a positive impact on somebody’s life. Look beyond profitability.
  • Tell your team that their approach will have the right impact: Good managers inform their team about the significance of their work and also tell them that the approach they have adopted is the best one and will have impact. Having a major problem to solve would be meaningless unless you know you are on the right track to solving it.
  • Successful TeamCreate psychological safety: This is a unique characteristic of a successful team. As Paul Santagata, Head of Industry at Google says, “There’s no team without trust.” According to a study published in 1999, psychological safety refers to a team climate that is characterized by personal trust and mutual respect and one in which people are comfortable being themselves. In a psychologically safe environment, each team member would feel free to speak up without fear of being humiliated, rejected or punished by the team. All ideas are welcomed and considered and people are confident that they can contribute their best. Even if they happen to stumble or fail, good project managers will help them fix the problem and get back on track.

Google has spent millions of dollars to evaluate almost every aspect of its employees’ lives – from how frequently particular people eat together to which traits the best managers share. Managers were shocked when they learned that avoiding micromanaging is critical. Project Aristotle, which involved the company’s best statisticians, organizational psychologists, sociologists and engineers and researchers, scrutinized hundreds of Google’s teams for a year to figure out why some tripped up while others succeeded. They concluded that understanding and influencing the group norms that mattered most were the keys to improving the tech giant’s teams.

Project Aristotle emphasized the importance of communication and meetings are a key strategy that teams use to discuss matters face to face. Whether it’s a new proposal, a new prospect, a problem, or brainstorming something, meetings help managers and employers air their views and take important decisions. Audio transcription of these discussions and face to face interactions is a great way to track who said what and to use the content to facilitate group decision-making.

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