September 25, 2022

Mindset Monday: Building a Better Team

Google’s Project Aristotle

Building a Better Team

“Working in a team is cheating!” “I don’t like working with other people because I do all of the work!” “I want to be on a team with all of the smartest people!” Over the years I have heard it all when it comes to students’ mindsets about teamwork. Fortunately Google spent Millions of dollars studying how to help teams function better because they do all of their work in teams. (Click here to read the full article). These activities are designed to help our students find more value in team work and become better team members.

Objectives: 

  1. To reinforce the importance of the 21st century job skill of collaboration by tying it into a company students all know. 
  2. To help students understand the characteristics of being a good team member in the Math team setting

Procedure:

  1. Assign the form and have students answer during the first 5 minutes of class
  2. Open a response spreadsheet and monitor answers in real time
  3. Pick a few students with discussion worthy answers to call on for a short class discussion

The Art of Teaching:

  1. Knowing the research in advance is always important
  2. Thoughtful selection of students to call on for discussion. I never ask for hands until after I have purposefully heard from a few students.
  3. Always lead a positive discussion that helps students understand how valuable these skills are for them

A group of us in Google’s People Operations (what we call HR) set out to answer this question using data and rigorous analysis: What makes a Google team effective? 

Over two years we conducted 200+ interviews with Googlers (our employees) and looked at more than 250 attributes of 180+ active Google teams. We were pretty confident that we’d find the perfect mix of individual traits and skills necessary for a stellar team — take one Rhodes Scholar, two extroverts, one engineer who rocks at AngularJS, and a PhD. Voila. Dream team assembled, right?

We were dead wrong. Who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions. So much for that magical algorithm.

Who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions. So much for that magical algorithm.

We learned that there are five key dynamics that set successful teams apart from other teams at Google:

  1. Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
  2. Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?
  3. Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
  4. Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
  5. Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?
Number Team CharacteristicLInk
1Psychological Safetyhttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/1sFO4oXhR2L42zV00OWvy3EBCK_K3vuSUjm7snhy9ISk/copy
2Dependabilityhttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/19F9tYBIy1F3v0nJRux59ND4hr9POCyD_wA4iuBzSHMA/copy
3Structure & Clarityhttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/1IewBhUCqQ6hzEVPS_qBcHcpwaWyaYxDKYMUbazo8vx8/copy 
4Meaning of Workhttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/1vPGWP4J5LXfXROMHmql_VXr9Evbf0UTyl2DQhe4FTug/copy 
5Impact of Workhttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/1nZIiuFrmEOchiUIHRfbGDo0TblMTqDeabSjWoHOcfrs/copy