What does a great team look like? That’s a question Google set out to explore recently as part of a project nick-named ‘Aristotle’ which was actually a tribute to his famous quote: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” And that’s exactly what they found when it comes to teams!
The study found five key dynamics of team effectiveness

– ‘Meaning’, ‘Impact’, ‘Dependability’, ‘Structure and Clarity’ and ‘Psychological Safety’. And of the five, the most impactful of them all, the one that could predict greater commitment, revenue generation and the ability to harness diversity was psychological safety. At its simplest, psychological safety is defined as – “If I make a mistake in our team, it is not held against me.”

Psychological safety was first coined by Amy Edmondson and expertly presented in her TedX talk where she defines it as “A shared belief held by members of a team, that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.”

Whilst exploring psychological safety in teams is relatively new, safety as a need for human motivation is not. It has been around since Maslow presented his ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ in the 1940’s. In his model of human motivation, the second motivation behind physiological need is safety. At its core ‘safety’ is about freedom from fear.

Teams and some organisations in which they operate within are hot beds for breeding fear. ‘Fear of making a mistake’, ‘doing something wrong…even the ‘fear of being found out’ which is also known as the ‘Imposter syndrome’.
At the heart of all these fears is a foundational need that we seek or even expect to have within a team – and that is the fundamental need to belong.
Creating a team that understands the importance of belonging and how to create this separates the great team from the good. To explore this concept further check out our article; The difference between a good team and a great team

Sarah Friis is an author, facilitator and mentor of high performance teams. She has recently published “The Power of Team – A practical guide to breakthrough performance”. Sarah has a Masters in Psychology and is co-founder of Workshops4teams.com, a leading global team resource dedicated to unleashing the power of team. http://www.workshops4teams.com

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