Notes by Nero Okwa
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Notes by Nero Okwa

#31. Strategy, Management & Teamwork for 2022

Part 4 — Teamwork, and Series Conclusion.

Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

Hello Everyone,

I am excited to bring you the final article in this series ‘Strategy, Management & Teamwork for 2022’ on Teamwork. Today we shall learn about how to build a great team and achieve good teamwork.

You can read past series articles: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and a bonus Strategy Book Review.

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Teams and Teamwork

A team is a group of interdependent people with complementary skills working towards a specific goal, who hold themselves and each other accountable.

Teamwork is the collaborative effort of the group towards achieving the shared objective in an effective and efficient way.

But what makes a good team? Luckily for us Google might have the answer.

Google’s Project Aristotle

Over a period of 2 years, a group of researchers at Google set out to answer the question: ‘Why are some teams successful while others are not?

During this period, they analysed the data of 180 Google teams and interviewed hundreds of employees.

The results showed that what mattered most was how the team worked together, rather than who was on the team. The team could be all introverts, or extroverts, as long as they treat each other in a certain way, that team will thrive.

The five key dynamics of effective teams identified by the researchers are:

Source

Of these five key dynamics, Psychological Safety was the most important by far. The research showed that individuals on a team with high psychological safety were less likely to leave the firm, are,

‘The Google researchers found that individuals on teams with higher psychological safety are less likely to leave Google. They are more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates and they are rated as twice effective by executives.’

What is Psychological Safety?

Psychological Safety refers to when team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other, rather than to be seen as ignorant, incompetent, or disruptive.

Team psychological safety” was first introduced by Organizational behavioural scientist Amy Edmondson.

‘Taking a risk around your team members may sound simple. But a simple question like “what’s the goal of this project?” may make you sound like you are out of the loop or ignorant’.

I was once in a small group case study session. During the session everyone was eager to share their ‘point of view’ without a linkage to the overall objective.

At the end, we did not solve the case study, not because we could not, but because no one on the team knew the objective of the case study and spoke up. In hindsight, that was psychological safety, or the lack thereof.

Fostering psychological safety in your team

In her TEDx talk below, Edmondson three things that individuals can do to foster team psychological safety. They are:

1. Frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem.

2. Acknowledge your own fallibility.

3. Model curiosity and ask lots of questions.

Leaders can build psychological safety into their team by fostering a positive team climate, where each member’s contribution is valued, each member cares about one another’s well-being, and has a say in how the team achieves its objective.

Managers can achieve this by setting the tone for the team climate with their actions, thus role modelling the psychological safety behaviours they expect to see in the team.

Google provides a simple guide with actionable tips that can help managers create the right team climate, and ultimately foster psychological safety on their team.

Get the Guide

TED Talk: Why being respectful to your coworkers is good for business by Christine Porat

This talk showed that people value being treated with respect more importantly than recognition and appreciation.

When this is done, people function at their best and are willing to give more to the organisation.

Conclusion

In this article we explored the meaning of teams and teamwork. We also showed that there are 5 key factors for effective teams, of which the most important is psychological safety.

The TEDx talk by Amy Edmondson and Guide provide a practical roadmap to get started with psychological safety on your team.

Finally, the TED talk by Christine Porath showed that colleagues and team members function best when treated with respect.

There you have it. By creating an optimal team climate, fostering psychological safety, and treating team members with respect, we can build great teams and achieve effective teamwork.

‘Teamwork makes the dream work’

Series Conclusion

In January, we commenced a new series on Strategy, Management, and Teamwork. Common discussions seek to separate these 3 topics, but I believe they are interconnected and hence, there is great value in considering them together. This insight has led to this 4-part series.

I believe the ultimate lesson is that great strategy is implemented by good management, and good management needs to foster effective teamwork. Effective teams help to co-create and execute the strategy, towards achieving the overarching business goal.

Good luck!

Thanks for reading and see you next week.

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For any questions you can reach me at notesbynero@gmail.com or on LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Nero

Racing Towards Excellence.

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Nero Okwa

Nero Okwa

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Entrepreneur, Product Manager and StoryTeller. In love with Business, Technology, Travel and Africa.