Last Fall Google researched what factors make teams effective. They expected to find the perfect make-up of an effective team: The individuals, personality types, number of PhDs, and more. What they found surprised them.
What determined effectiveness was how the team interacted. Not who was on the team.
Here are their five keys to optimizing teams:
1. Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
2. Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?
3. Structure and clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
4. Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
5. Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?
Google Term Meaning
Psychological safety – Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
Dependability – Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?
Structure & clarity – Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
Meaning of work – Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
Impact of work – Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?
The key skill is listening
Many initially name ‘listening’ as something they should work on. Yet they often seem almost perversely proud of their non-listening status. How many of us find ourselves at odds with the knowledge we ‘should’ listen but the conflicting compulsion to lead by directing, which often translates into talking more than others. Or worse yet, appearing to listen but just quietly waiting for our time to talk without really paying attention.
How to give people what they ache for
A core human need is validation–that experience of feeling seen and understood. We crave it. According to Oprah Winfrey, who has interviewed thousands of people from ordinary folks to world leaders and highly successful business people, they all ask her the same question after the interview: “Did I do OK?”
In seeking validation many people talk without listening first. We are eager to make our next point and be validated. So we don’t listen. While the other person is speaking, we are arranging our next piece of brilliance and persuasion in our minds. When we’re told we need to be more ‘present’ or even told to talk less, we start out with the best intentions, but soon find ourselves vying for airtime.
As leaders, part of our job is to find our validation elsewhere and give the gift of listening to our team.
Here’s how you can help yourself become a more successful listener: Ask more questions. Ask questions and actually listen for the answer and keep your mouth closed until it’s time to ask the next question. Try keeping the ratio of questions to you offering your opinion at 80 per cent questions to 20 per cent your opinion.