A study carried out by Google to understand the dynamics of its most effective teams revealed that a sense of psychological safety, dependability, structure and clarity, meaning and impact (respectively) are the most important elements.
The study, entitled “Project Aristotle”, concluded that there is no team without trust.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”
The results of Project Aristotle were discussed as part of a British Chamber of Commerce breakfast seminar that was held on Wednesday 20 September, hosted by Badenoch & Clark, Luxembourg. The seminar was the third in a series of events organised by the chamber’s People and Leadership working group on “The Art and Science of Communication” and was animated by Sarah Battey, business coach and trainer, along with Claudia Neumeister, HR & talent acquisition consultant.
Neumeister started the session by asking the 50 or so participants to identify the characteristics of the most successful teams they have experienced. Terms similar to those identified by Project Aristotle were proposed--trust, respect and communication among the top three.
“A feeling of psychological safety in a team means that individuals will ask more questions, dare to challenge and be creative without the fear of being negatively judged,” added Battey.
Dare to be ostentatious
The challenge for leaders is how to create an atmosphere of psychological safety. According to Battey and Neumeister, communication is key. They proposed two specific tools--“ostentatious listening” (from the 2016 publication of Charles Duhigg, “Smarter, Faster, Better”) and equality in conversational turn taking.
“Recap, validate and focus on solutions. Demonstrate engagement verbally and with body language,” said Neumeister.
“Allow team members to speak in roughly the same proportions. Solicit their input and do not interrupt or allow interruptions,” Battey elaborated.
The ratio of positive to negative communication is also essential to the promotion of a feeling of psychological safety. “Research has shown that a ratio of six positive thoughts for every negative one is typical in successful teams,” explained Neumeister.