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Although most organizational experts agree that teamwork is important to organizational success and profitability, its significance has ballooned over recent years. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review cited that the time managers and employees spend collaborating on work and projects has increased by more than 50% or more over the past two decades, and more than three-quarters of an employee’s time at work is spent communicating with others. Additionally, teams tend to solve problems faster, find better solutions and find mistakes more quickly than individual workers. This phenomenon is supported by research showing that those organizations with higher levels of collaboration not only have more productive and more satisfied employees, but not surprisingly, also show greater profitability. 

Although researchers have studied how people work in teams for over four decades, the current boom in technology, and subsequently data, has enabled them to dig down to the very depths of what makes employees, and teams, more efficient. Research on the effectiveness of teams is being conducted on university and corporate campuses across the world, and at the forefront is the media giant, Google. In 2013, Google set out to find out what makes a Google team effective and why some teams outperform others – was it diversity in the group, the structure of the group or the individual skill sets? Previously, Google had conducted a research study to find out why some managers were more effective than others, discovering that those that act as coaches to their subordinates and don’t micro-manage them are more successful. But now the question was what makes a team more effective. This was important to Google since all of their more than 60,000 employees work on at least one team. These teams can range from three people to more than 70 and are mostly project-oriented. The researchers’ hypothesis was that those teams with the right mix of people with diverse traits and skills and the right motivation would be more effective. What they found, however, was surprising.

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Stuart Levine

Credit Union Times

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