What separates high-performing teams from average ones? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Cal Henderson, CTO and co-founder of Slack, on Quora:

Success in today's workforce is increasingly about how teams work together, rather than work done by individuals. More and more work is becoming knowledge work, and all knowledge work is teamwork. Building a high-performing team is more simple and straightforward than most people think.

Google conducted a fascinating study examining what makes a team effective and successful. They studied 180 Google teams, conducted 200-plus interviews, and analyzed over 250 different team attributes. The study found that the single best indicator of a team's success or effectiveness was how well the team worked together and communicated. Specific skill sets, backgrounds, education - none of that matters as much as trusting your colleagues and being able to communicate ideas freely - without fear of criticism. Specifically, the number one dynamic of an effective team was found to be "psychological safety" - that teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members. Taking risks can be big or small, and may take the form of admitting an error, asking a question, or sharing a new creative idea.

Taking risks leads to learning, and learning leads to better decision-making and problem solving. Teams who are empowered to take risks with the support and camaraderie of their peers are propelled towards higher performance. It also makes for a much more enjoyable workday.

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Published on: Feb 19, 2019