As performance expectations continue to rise, so does the desire to pinpoint what goes into creating successful teams. That’s because a great team doesn’t simply combine the talents of its members—it enhances them, allowing them to achieve far more than they could alone. In the words of the philosopher Aristotle, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
That quote was the impetus for Project Aristotle, an initiative that researchers at Google recently undertook to uncover the secrets to effective collaboration. They examined 180 teams within the company, conducting hundreds of interviews and examining a slew of quantitative and qualitative metrics.
Some of their findings were surprising. Researchers concluded that several seemingly vital variables were not actually central factors in productivity, such as team size; whether or not team members worked side by side or in different locations; the size of their workload; or even the performance of individual team members.
But the most surprising finding of the project was that workers were more likely to view team culture as the true measure of effectiveness, rather than metrics like sales numbers or product rollouts. If you foster the sort of healthy interdependence that creates a great team culture, success in other areas will follow. If you take care of the culture and eliminate the impediments to greatness, those metrics tend to take care of themselves.
How do you build the sort of environment that can supercharge efficiency, collaboration, and productivity? These are the five essential elements.
A team needs to operate in a constant state of realignment. That means being able to respond on the fly to changing situations, as well as adapting practices and processes to meet evolving needs.
Teams are more likely to hit their deadlines when there is a system in place that makes each team member aware of how much the success of their teammates depends upon their own ability to honor commitments and meet goals.
Mistakes are inevitable. A healthy team can spot them quickly and deal with them in a mature and even handed manner. Team members need to have a level of trust that makes them feel comfortable taking risks, admitting errors, and critiquing each other’s work.
You can’t have a sense of purposefulness if you don’t actually know the purpose of what you’re doing. Team members must have a solid grasp of their current project’s structure and process; how their efforts relate to the efforts of others; how their team contributes to the company’s overarching goals; and how their mission might conflict or overlap with the missions of other teams.
This fundamental ingredient enables all of the others. Teams need open, honest communication, but they also need to have a system that enables frictionless sharing of status, information, and insights.
Helping your team become great
How do you help teams pursue these elements that are so important to a positive culture? Whether you’re the lead, the project manager, or a frontline worker, you need to constantly listen, learn and share. You should also seek out tools that can supercharge collaboration. A task management solution like Clarizen Go can be particularly helpful.
- To help you become more agile, Clarizen Go allows teams to create their own processes so that people can work the way they want to.
- Go is built to help create and assign carefully tailored tasks, goals, and milestones, and easily report their progress to help hold team members accountable.
- One of the best ways to make employees feel safe is to minimize workplace stress, and discovering mistakes that at the last minute that require a mad scramble to get back on track are a major contributor to that sort of anxiety. A great way to spot mistakes and deal with them as soon as possible. Clarizen Go lets you see the status of projects instantly and spot problems and chokepoints.
- Go boosts clarity across the enterprise, increasing line of sight which helps uncover overlaps and conflicts between teams, while helping everyone see how their goals and milestones are helping the overall organization.
- Communication is a snap with Clarizen Go. Tasks can have a wide array of relevant information attached to them, helping track priority and status and stage as well as easily breaking down what needs to be done into the simplest and most direct terms. Clarizen’s task management solution also has robust mechanisms for sharing feedback. All of its features are designed to simplify everything your team does.
Employees who are armed with the tools and the know-how they need in order to operate with maximum efficiency can come together to form a team that’s truly greater than the sum of its parts. But it will require continual effort to foster and maintain the sort of positive culture that guarantees success. To quote our pal Aristotle again, “One swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy.”