The dynamic of a group can determine whether or not a group of people is good or harmful to yourself. This group of people can affect everything, from how you work to how you grow as an individual.
I’ll be talking more about how others affect us, but this is a good taste and feel for what a group can do.
As I mentioned yesterday, Charles Duhigg went on a mission to learn about what makes people so productive. One of the key things is the group of people that is formed.
Teamwork is an instrumental part to living and thriving and finding confidence in ourselves. It was how I propelled myself to change, because of the people around me.
I’ve also shared my thoughts on proper team building too. And now, I want to expand on it.
Yesterday it was Marines, today it’s now a corporate group that we use all the time: Google.
A while back, Google was working on a rather big project called Project Aristotle. One of the notable things was that many groups were formed in order to tackle this major project, and from there they learned something.
Through the experience Google went through, the groups that were formed learned about five keys.
These five keys were then used to bring a group to be highly productive when tackling a project.
This was all outlined in Charles Duhigg’s book Smarter, Faster, Better, but here is an overview of what they learned.
“Safety doesn’t happen by accident.” — Anonymous
The first key aspect of what makes Google’s groups so productive is psychological safety.
This is the notion that when people go to work, they want to feel safe emotionally.
What Duhigg writes in his book describes that Google doesn’t want people to have to put on a ‘work face’ when they are working.
What they encourage is people feel present at work, but be able to be free enough to feel safe. This can translate to us expressing everything from worries, and fears and not be reprimanded.
When people can feel this, it makes ideas flow more. There is a certain magic behind being able to open up and share our thoughts. This makes for a better and growing group.
“Ability is important in our quest for success, but dependability is crucial.” — Zig Ziglar
The second key is dependability.
The idea that we can depend on others to deliver on time high quality work.
From this creates a strong bond of trust, but also concern when people don’t meet the deadlines.
Simon Sinek talked a little about this in what creates a leader as well.
He called it empathy.
Here’s the full video on that.
The problem arises when managers don’t understand their purpose and make an attempt to manage people. As Simon Sinek explains, managers are normally built to teach others how things are done through their eyes.
That doesn’t create a great environment as it leads to managers, the leaders of the business world, micro-managing us.
In other words, they can’t depend on their employees doing the right thing, and as a collective group, they can’t depend on anyone.
But by placing dependability within the group, the same kind of effect can happen in the work place.
When someone is falling behind, instead of fixing the problem for them, ask them what’s wrong.
Y’know, empathy. Like a real person would.
By doing that, you are moving away from doing all the lifting yourself and showing support for your fellow people.
That doesn’t go unnoticed in groups.
Structure & Clarity
“Clarity affords focus.” — Thomas Leonard
The third key is structure and clarity.
Does the group and company have clear goals, roles, and action plans in place to get everything done?
When people understand those things clearly they are better able to focus and become productive within the group.
People can also delegate the work to those who are more talented in certain areas than others.
When you know what you are good at and what needs to get done, the better you can move as a team. No good can come out long-term when you “crunch”.
Instead, be flexible and open. Make adjustments and listen to your team. That doesn’t mean not setting clear goals. For sure, set them. But be willing to adjust when necessary.
Meaning of The Work
“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.” — Maya Angelou
Fourth key is having the group work towards something they value.
People can associate a why with the work that they are doing.
As I’ve said before, you eventually need a why in order to grow and improve from the work you are doing. When you lack that, you find yourself stalling and not getting anywhere.
Many people hate their jobs because they lack a reason to do the work outside of “it allows me to survive.”
As beings who aspire for more, we need to find work that allows us to get closer to our goals and desires.
When we don’t that can’t translate to our goals and actions. When you don’t care about something this is reflected in your work.
In my first accounting job I had I sucked at it. I made mistakes every single day. At the time, I thought it was deep down I had no level of care for the company I worked for.
Later, I realized it was more so the profession rather than the work.
My point is, when you have a reason to care for something, you’ll be far more motivated. Make sure the members of your group and yourself care about what’s being done.
Impact Of The Work
“Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence.” — Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The fifth and final key is the impact of the work.
The belief that the work that we are doing is making a difference, that it has a purpose and matters.
A lot of people don’t like their work because a lot of it feels like mindless work that doesn’t contribute much in the end.
They’re just a small cog to a massive machine.
True every product and service has a purpose to play for varying people, but that doesn’t take away the fact that some people feel they don’t play a role in the work that they are doing.
This is basically a reinforcement of that why, providing a viable reason to pursue something. You want people to feel important.
From the people that make the brilliant ideas and do what needs to get done all the way down to the people making coffee and cleaning the place up. Make sure they know that you think they’re crucial to the team.
When all five of these keys are satisfied, you can create an effective group that is highly productive and supportive. But one thing about these keys is that these are actually norms that we can include within our own growing groups.
As I mentioned before, norms make or break groups and when you have some great norms they can cause groups to flourish and help others.
Here is how you can apply these norms into the group you are forming.
- Psychological safety: Be supportive of every person. Don’t burn down ideas while they are presented. Show appreciation for what each member has to say without making them feel insecure or embarrassed.
- Dependability: Place trust and faith in the people around you that they can get things done. If they are trailing behind, show support and concern. Offer to help if necessary.
- Structure & Clarity: Make it absolutely clear what the objectives, roles that each person plays, and plans are. Ensure that everyone understands them.
- Meaning Of The Work: Formulate a purpose of the group and ask every person if they agree with it and why.
- Impact Of The Work: When setting tasks and roles, outline the significance of it. When people are being introduced, explain how this can benefit the group as a whole.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon
This post is part of an 3 month writing challenge that I’m committing myself to. Every day for 3 months, I’ll be writing articles with specific criteria in mind. You can learn all about my reasoning as well as what that criteria is right here. This is 29 of 91 of this series.
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