The Secret Behind High Performing Teams


August 2018

Some teams shine. Their work is fast, creative and exciting. Yet the ‘ingredients’ of the team can look conventional. They don’t have more qualifications, extroverts or funding for their projects So what is the secret?

After two years of intensive analysis, Google’s HR team found that it wasn’t who was in the team, but the way the members interacted. Above all, the most significant factor underlying team performance was a feeling of ‘psychological safety‘. This means being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences for self-image, status or career.
Google’s next aim was to investigate and discover which tools would boost feelings of psychological safety in their employee’s teams.

For example, one tool involved starting weekly team meetings with everyone sharing a risk they took in the previous week. This pushed all team members to be vulnerable and open up about a personal decision that had made them feel nervous or uncomfortable. It worked. The sharing exercise boosted feelings of psychological safety and therefore, team performance.

Google employees also reported that simply having everyone they worked with hear about ‘psychological safety’ had great benefits. Employees didn’t receive an in-depth education, but just the core principles of Google’s findings. However, if employees understand that their team will improve if they encourage one another to feel comfortable and confident in sharing their ideas, then it is within their own interest to support each and every team member.

The science of work relationships and team efficiency has many insights and tools to offer. To begin with, try to use these tools to improve psychological safety in team meetings, employees and employers today. Share what now know about psychological safety, open up about the recent risks you have been taking, and encourage others to do the same. You could share this article, open up a conversation about it and debate the current state of psychological safety in your office. As psychological safety improves so too will performance, productivity and wellbeing.

Find out how Soma Analytics’ solution, Kelaa Mental Resilience,  can address mental wellbeing and positive relationships in your workplace.

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Duhigg, C. (2016). What Google learned from its quest to build the perfect team. The New York Times Magazine, 26.


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