It turns out, there seems to be a set of unwritten rules that cause certain people to connect and get things done.

How do unwritten rules influence effective teams?

Dr. Susan Cain Team Development Leave a Comment

Some people work well together, others do not. When people do work effectively together, beautiful things can happen. Projects get done on time, relationships form and goals are met. Yet exactly what is it that causes these teams to be so fluid and effective? It turns out, there seems to be a set of unwritten rules that cause certain people to connect and get things done. Here's why they work so well in creating an efficient group that constantly strives and reaches success.

Everyone gets an equal say
According to recent research from Google, it turns out that groups that work the best together often allow all members to talk for equal periods of time. Instead of letting one person talk, while others only talk for small amounts of time, every member feels their opinion is valued and respected and they share their thoughts in equal measure. Google found that when everyone contributed to the conversation, the team was more likely to reach their goals. When the group was dominated by one or two people, the team wasn't as effective and everything wasn't achieved in a collective, cohesive manner.

"When everyone contributed to the conversation, the team was more likely to reach its goals."

People are intuitive
Google also discovered that people in successful groups tended to be better at perceiving others' thoughts and feelings. If someone in the group is upset or misunderstood, these people can recognize the nonverbal cues that person is giving off to help address the conflict and reach a resolution. The research showed that people who were less likely to acknowledge these nonverbal cues or who weren't in tune with their group's feelings were more likely to struggle as a group and not work together as well.

Google realized both of these unwritten rules went back to a concept known as psychological safety. When a person felt safe in their group, they were more likely to flourish. Psychological safety can easily be applied in the workplace to help employees work more cohesively. The two most common issues that block this sense of safety in an office environment are anxiety and depression. However, if employees can identify the various risks that threaten this psychological health, such as not allowing people to speak up, they can learn to avoid them and instead create a safe, and thus successful, workplace.

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Dr. Susan CainHow do unwritten rules influence effective teams?

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