Workplace Performance- 5 Traits of High Performing Teams

Seven workplace performance questions measuring psychological safety. 


Editor’s note: This is part two of a two part series, part one entitled What Makes a Great Performing Workplace?  covered questions and Failed Opportunities – A Small Business Case Study.

5 Traits of High Performing Teams

Google’s Analytics demonstrated that their most successful teams shared some specific traits.

The 5 traits they found included:

1.   Dependability: Members can be counted on to complete their work on time

2.   Structure and Clarity: Understanding ones job expectations and what need to do to fulfill the expectations and how their work plays a role in the overall completion of goals

3.   Meaning:  Having a sense of purpose in their work or the final product they contributed to.  

4.   Impact: Believing that their contributions are making a difference.

5.   Psychological safety: An employee’s perception that a team is a safe place to professional risks without being seen in a negative light and without being embarrassed or have their mistakes held against them.

It seems that what mattered at Google was not so much who was on the team generally, but how the team worked together. It is important to hire good people but once you hire them you have to work with them to develop traits to help your teams work together.

Measuring Psychological Safety

Are you interested in learning more about the 5th train, Psychological safety? When Google analysing psychological safety, they consulted with a Harvard organizational behavioural scientist.

She suggested asking employees how strongly they agreed or disagreed with 7 simple questions:

1.   If you make a mistake on this team, it is often held against you?

2.   Are members of this team are able to bring up problems and tough issues?

3.   Do people on this team sometimes reject others for being different?

4.   It is safe to take a risk on this team?

5.   It is difficult to ask other members of this team for help?

6.   Does anyone on this team would deliberately act in a way that undermines my efforts?

7.   Are your unique skills and talents are valued and utilized while working with the members of this team?

Gather some baseline data by asking your employees these questions using a 5-point Likert scale, 1 being “strongly disagree” and 5 being “strongly agree”.

Once you have this baseline data begin implementing strategies to cultivate more psychological safety and reassess your team 3 or 6 months later.

The 5 traits identified by Google analytics are ones your can cultivate in your organization and they do not require a particular expenditure of financial resources or significant time.

Take the time to assess how well you are doing on each of these traits by talking to your employees and then put in place a plan to keep the conversation on these traits going.

Related articles:

Part 1: What Makes a Great Performing Workplace?

Can Your Customers Spot “Professional Presence”?

Who are Your Influencers?

How To Be An Outstanding Business Partner

Tara Orchard
Tara Orchard
Tara Orchard is a coach, trainer, consultant and writer who applies her insights into people and Masters training in psychology to facilitate performance improvements, relationships and communication for people and businesses. She has worked with organizations to deliver clarity on culture and brand, develop their people and manage relationships with social network communities. Over the past 18 years she has consulted with 1000's of people who want to make effective transitions in their lives. Tara has a knack for hearing what people are thinking and helping them see what they need to see. She is the founder of her own career and social network coaching business, works with several other organizations as a coach and consultant and is about to complete her first book on the "psychology of effective social networking".

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