High-Performing Teams — What Google Found

Google studied the performance of their teams to learn about what lead to high-performing teams. The results were surprising.

Anthony Mersino
Leadership and Agility
3 min readMar 29, 2021

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I was excited to read this recent New York Times Article describing research done by Google to determine the characteristics of their high-performing teams.

In the Aristotle study, Google investigated the data on team performance to glean what they could about how to create high-performing teams. The results were surprisingly simple: high-performing teams created safety for their team members. The implications are important.

At 5,500+ words, the article is definitely TLTR. You can read my summary of the article below and then decide if you want to read the whole article.

Key Takeaways on Creating High-Performing Teams:

1. Teams are Important

Teams are a fundamental building block of the organization and how work gets done. Compared to individuals, teams innovate faster, create better solutions, make fewer mistakes, and result in higher employee engagement. Good teams can provide a competitive advantage.

2. Who is on the Team is not important

We tend to think of Google employees as a bunch of rock stars (and I am sure they are). But when it came down to performance, the research found that it was more about the team interactions and group norms than the particular individuals. It was about how the team worked together.

3. Creating Safety Matters & Teams Need Good Communications and Empathy

The best performing teams had what was called psychological safety, communication, and empathy. Psychological safety is what the team members feel about taking risks, making mistakes, speaking up, and doing what they think is right without feeling insecure or embarrassed. I wrote more about the importance of safety in Fear Has to Go for High-Performing Teams and Don’t Overlook This Requirement for High-Performing Teams.

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