Successful teams are what drives any company. They are what makes the difference. And, above all, it’s successful teams that make or break your business.
However, creating successful teams isn’t quite science yet. After all, you can put a bunch of very smart and talented people together, and still fail miserably. Or you can band together a group of people that, for whatever reason, synergize. They click together, overcome obstacles, and overachieve.
On the science side of things, Google did a 2-year study on 180 teams. This made matters simple. Successful teams have precisely 4 shared traits. Here’s our take on what each of them means, plus a couple of takeaways that will help you develop successful teams.
1. Successful teams feel psychologically safe
Successful teams have the courage to be creative. They foster a climate that benefits idea sharing. Imagine working in a place in which you feel like everyone is out to get you. Cutthroat workplaces are not that uncommon. And even if you’re in an OK working environment, there are still many other issues.
Most of us learn from a young age to be reserved and not always offer our opinion. School, if anything, achieves precisely this filtering of ideas. Sometimes, however, it has quite a detrimental effect.
Feeling safe at work means several things. It means that you have a space to develop and communicate your ideas. That people welcome your contributions and offer feedback the right way. And that even when they offer negative feedback, they know how to do it right.
Psychological safety has plenty to do with not always feeling analyzed. Or remembered for the wrong reasons. It has to do with how well you get to manage your emotions at work. And, in fact, with how happy you are at work. To be fair, it’s not about happiness as much as it is about nurture. This is incredibly hard to achieve, particularly with work pressure and team stress. People are competitive, or even enjoy confrontations and get involved in conflicts at work.
And meetings can reward the talkative while segregating the introverts. It’s by far the most challenging thing about successful teams.
2. Successful teams share dependability
Each team member knows they can count on everybody else. They can expect everyone’s contribution to fit in and matter. And they are relaxed about how the whole thing will work together. They know everything will fit because they can count on everybody to do their part.
Dependability stems from two main traits. Developing team trust and improving team communications.
Team trust is what makes each team member relax and count on everybody else. They can safely focus on their bit and give it their best. And their best will matter and align with what everybody is doing. The main idea is simple. Build team trust and have everyone focus on what they do best. In effect, the whole team becomes dependable.
Improving team communications is simple. Just use Hubgets. It takes seconds to take the whole team onboard. Not to mention that it can improve the overall onboarding process for new employees. Ultimately, it’s dependable team communications you’re after.
3. Structure and clarity guarantee successful teams
Both structure and clarity are near-classical features of work organization. That’s what it’s all about. Firstly, team members need to have clear roles. Each person knows precisely what they need to do. And don’t need to concern themselves with anything else.
Secondly, the team needs to strategize plans. And perhaps even point out which roles do what in those plans. Participating in plan-making is a great way to have the team relate with the overall vision. Moreover, team decisions can further drive productivity. Valuable input can be offered on different aspects pertaining to the strategy. In fact, even teams that execute plans should have a say in strategic planning.
Most of all, teams need to set goals and reach them. Goals are milestones on the path to success. Goals allow for the synchronization of team efforts. Besides, goal contagion by itself can boost team productivity.
Moreover, they offer great opportunities for team building and team bonding. Anytime a goal is hit, get the team together to celebrate. Even better, you can use various strategies with regards to goals. For example, you can create temporary task force to deal with micro-goals.
Overall, structure and clarity means that each team member has a map. The map contains all there is to know about the team: the functions, the interactions, and the objectives. This simplifies things and helps each team member navigate. And, above all else, they help make successful teams.
4. Successful teams do meaningful work
Sure, maybe it’s a Millennial thing for people to want their work to have meaning. However, maybe it’s not. Finding that your work matters and is valuable is in itself a satisfaction.
Maybe previous generations found meaning in different ways. Coming out of WWII, maybe meaningful work meant that you can feed and clothe your family.
Nowadays, however, meaningful work means that it matters to many more people. And that it matters the good way. What would you rather do, if capable? Find the cure for cancer or establish the first colony on Mars? See, they’re both great choices. And that’s precisely what teams are all about these days.
Meaningful work today means that superior values (think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) are covered our work. That’s why SpaceX employees don’t care that they’re paid less. Musk was quick to correct the gender wage gap, however. And that’s why so many people working for causes or NGOs accept a significantly reduced payment for their professional help.
What it all boils down to is happiness. People want to be happy. And doing work that’s meaningful makes people happy. But successful teams don’t need to work on cancer research to find meaning. They can easily find meaning in being part of the effort. Which, in effect, boosts their intrinsic motivation.
Overall, that’s what the world is today. Modern teams become successful teams only with the right conditions. And these conditions are subtle, and, to a large extent, immaterial. It makes all the sense in the world that now, more than ever, soft skills matter. Improving your HR department, organizing more team trainings or cutting down on meetings. Most of all, it’s smart team communications that bring fort successful teams.