It has been and still is a common belief that great people beget great teams – if you want a team to achieve greatness, you must begin with greatness at the individual level. Many companies hold this belief to be true and build their teams based upon it – including up until recently, internet technology giant Google.
But there’s a problem. This mentality does not consider the innumerable variances in personality characteristics among a group of people, even if they are considered top performers. It also does not consider external organizational factors that impact the team. A team can look like a dream team on paper, but perform like a B team in the office because their behavior, which ultimately drives performance, is shaped by intangible, unmeasurable team dynamics that are affected by internal and external factors.
This is something we understand well – our partners have dedicated their careers to leading and developing teams prior to joining ArchPoint, and we constantly work in the world of team dynamics as it relates to organizational performance.
There is a direct correlation between the quality and effectiveness of an organization’s teams and organizational performance. If team effectiveness in an organization is lacking, you can bet overall performance will fall short of company goals. This correlation and the need to ensure a strong foundation to enable the achievement of organizational goals led to the development of the ArchPoint Team Model, a model which presents performance characteristics that consistently build exceptional teams, and the ArchPoint Team Survey, an assessment tool that measures how teams work.
Google examines why teams excel
Google has also taken a deep dive into understanding team effectiveness, conducting a two-year study of 180 teams called Project Aristotle with the goal of pinpointing the reason why some of the company’s teams excelled and others were lacking. They specifically wanted to identify behaviors that enhanced the collective intellect of the team.
What they found were five characteristics of “enhanced teams” – attributes that when present, increase the likelihood of team success. These characteristics from their study are core to ArchPoint’s Team Model for creating high performing teams:
Team members stick to deadlines and meet expectations.
2. Structure and clarity.
The team has well-defined roles and goals.
Team members find personal significance in their work.
Team members believe their work has purpose, can create change, and contributes to a greater good.
5. Psychological Safety.
Team members feel a sense of safety with the group and are not afraid to take risks and exhibit vulnerability.
ArchPoint details HOW to create high-performing teams
We fully agree with the Google study on the above characteristics being critical to high-performing teams. But we take team dynamics one step further in the ArchPoint Team Model by addressing how to foster and build those exceptional teams. Each of the elements in the Team Model is tangible – for example, a team leader can create a process for Consistent Communication that leads to a feeling of Psychological Safety among team members and outline Common Measures that shows the team’s work creates an Impact on the organization.
The most critical elements to driving behavior and team performance are a strong team leader and a solid organizational culture. These two elements must be in place to nurture the other characteristics that lead to effective teams.
To begin the process of creating great teams, a leader must both take stock of her team and her own capabilities. Most leaders can pinpoint the areas where their team struggles but identifying the reason why the team is struggling can prove difficult. The ArchPoint Team Survey provides perspective into the why by showing where the team stands on each key element of the Team Model (which in essence, is a reflection of her own ability to establish and foster those elements in her team) so that the path to how is made clear.