Trusting the people you work with and believing in what you're doing are both more important than your colleagues' fancy pedigrees. Because even if you work with the most genius humans on the planet, you can't do good work for a sustained period of time if those people are selfish jerks and everyone is working in a fog of insecurity.
We all kind of knew this already, but Google actually did a study that came to a similar conclusion. On Tuesday, the company released the results of its work -- more than 200 interviews conducted over the past two years with Google employees, plus an analysis of various attributes and skills on different teams at the company.
Google discovered that people work best when they trust their coworkers and feel like they can take risks, depend on one another and understand the team's goals.
"This research gives a language to the things that I think are not necessarily rocket science but creates a structure to talk," Roya Soleimani, a spokeswoman for the company, told The Huffington Post.
The news comes at a time when most major tech companies, including Google, are struggling to diversify their worker ranks. And the findings surely will help the company create the kind of welcoming workplace that not only can attract more women and minorities (only 30 percent of "Googlers" are female, and 70 percent are white) but help retain them.
"If you want a diversity of ideas and people, that goes back to psychological safety and clarity and trust," Soleimani said. "As a company we’re working on this in every way possible."
Google came up with five key "dynamics" to a successful team:
The findings are bolstered by academic research out of the University of Notre Dame's business school that was published earlier this fall in the Academy of Management Journal. The study looked at different teams at six companies, and found that work groups do better when members are motivated to help each other. In other words, self-interest will only take you so far at work.
When Google was just a little startup that helped you search the Internet for stuff, the company was pretty strict about hiring: Ivy League grads with high SAT scores were the preferred worker bees.
The company figured out that was ridiculous quite quickly, as its people chief, Laszlo Bock, explained in his recent book Work Rules.
"Not shocking to you, perhaps, but these were early days at Google and, quite frankly, our approach was more elitist then," he writes. Now the company looks for bright, hardworking candidates who have demonstrated "resilience and an ability to overcome hardship."
This latest bit of research feels like a natural step toward moving away from this automatic elitism -- the kind that reinforces a lack of diversity, by the way. Google is releasing the information publicly through its re:Work website, which is dedicated to sharing what it has learned about how to treat its nearly 60,000 employees.
"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?" Juliai Rozovsky, an analyst in the Google's people operations (i.e., HR) department, writes in a blog post. "We were dead wrong. Who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions."