Velas Coaching

A Google Research Finding About Team Building

 How do teams form and why are some teams better than others? How are some relationships more productive than others? A New York Times article recently addressed what Google has learned regarding an efficient and more productive team building process.

The common belief is that building the best teams meant combining the best people. In their study, however, the Google researchers looked at many teams and their rate of affectivity.   No pattern was evident “Some groups that were ranked among Google’s most effective teams, for instance, were composed of friends who socialized outside work. Others were made up of people who were basically strangers away from the conference room. Some groups sought strong managers. Others preferred a less hierarchical structure. Most confounding of all, two teams might have nearly identical makeups, with overlapping memberships, but radically different levels of effectiveness.”

The researchers eventually concluded that what distinguished the ‘‘good” teams from the dysfunctional groups was how teammates treated one another.

  1. First, on the good teams, there was roughly an equal distribution of “air time”, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, if everyone got a chance to talk, the team was more productive. ‘‘But if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.”
  2. Second, the good teams all had high ‘‘average social sensitivity” —way of saying they were skilled at intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions, and other nonverbal cues.

The researchers agreed that a team with a psychologically safe environment was more likely to be successful. But what does that mean?

To feel ‘‘psychologically safe,” we must know that we can be free enough, sometimes, to share the things that scare us without fear of recriminations. We must be able to talk about what is messy or sad, to have hard conversations with colleagues who are driving us crazy.

Now they had to find a way to make communication and empathy — the building blocks of forging real connections.   The behaviors have been identified; the question is how do we create a team building approach that injects these behaviors into our teams.

Interestingly, not long ago I read a book and wrote a post on forming teams that click.   The Google Study, thru research, has found the behaviors that make a great team. In their book “Click”,   Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman outline 5 “click accelerators” that build rapport and help people work better together. These relationship practices seem to fit in perfectly with the Google Research.

In short people who connect better tend to be more successful, have more friends, and work in teams that are more productive.

For more info of how to inject communication and empathy in your teams please visit

You can also download our white paper on Team Building below!!

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Luis Velasquez MBA, PhD

Luis is a leadership coach, employee engagement expert, and management trainer. Formerly a University professor and research scientist, Luis holds a dual Ph.D. from Michigan State University; and an MBA in Organizational Leadership.

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