Group dynamics in the workplace can be a powerful motivational tool and can effectively unite (or divide) a team depending on how it is implemented. Two articles reviewed helped to reflect this trend.
The first article at hand was “What Google Learned from its quest to build the perfect team” (Duhigg, 2016). This article provided some fine anecdotal evidence as well as case studies to support its conclusion, and the narrative begins by following Julia, a 25-year old Millennial who is unsure about her career and her life’s direction. She entered Yale’s Business School and was hopeful about her ability to work well within a team in that environment since they shared scholastic goals as well as backgrounds; however, things definitely did not go as well as she had hoped. “The team’s dynamics could put her on edge. When the group met, teammates sometimes jockeyed for the leadership position or criticized one another’s ideas. There were conflicts over who was in charge and who got to represent the group in class” (Duhigg, 2016, para. 4). As such, this background created a tense and stressful atmosphere rather than facilitating the productive exchange of ideas that Julia had pictured. Conversely, though, a debate team that she joined was the exact opposite experience. While people still debated or even outright clashed, there seemed to be more of a willingness to share and offer insight rather than jockeying for power or butting heads. Google took this same concept and utilized it for what they called Project Aristotle in building the perfect team by examining the habits of employees both inside and outside the workplace (did they socialize outside of work, for example? What hobbies did they have, and did they share any? How are they similar or dissimilar to others in their workplace?) (Duhigg, 2016, para. 16). Considering these areas—and centering hiring practices around them by combining like personalities—is one way that Google felt they could effectively harness and build their team efficiently. One area that was interesting for me to read was in Julia’s experience of two different groups with almost the exact same characteristics being so vastly different from one another, and it made me wonder how they would function if they were in a workplace together (would they fight for power or come together for a common goal?).
Likewise, the second article echoes this notion. In Haas and Mortenson’s “The secrets of great teamwork” (2016), the authors observe that while items such as personalities may seem important for employees to work together effectively, ultimately good teamwork lies within what they refer to as “enabling conditions” (Haas & Mortenson, 2016, para. 2). These conditions could include strong support and structure at work, as well as a “compelling direction” or a solid end goal at work (Haas & Mortenson, 2016, para. 2). Diversity can surely encompass a fair amount of the team and account for a large portion of its members, but it is within high-performing members and a clearly defined endpoint that teams can truly find their success. “High-performing teams include members with a balance of skills. Every individual doesn’t have to possess superlative technical and social skills, but the team overall needs a healthy dose of both” (Haas & Mortenson, 2016, para. 7). The authors also note that adding team members is not always the best solution, as this can lead to poor communication and possibly a breakdown in the structure involved. That surprised me a bit since I felt that this would be a good way to expand on existing talents. Nonetheless, focusing on these three areas, according to the writers of this article, is the best way to construct, develop, and harness the team’s energy for the best workplace performance possible.
While both articles diverge somewhat in their overall perspectives on how the greatest workplace team can be created, both also present logical ideas on how teamwork and group dynamics can be used to assist in constructing a productive employment space, one that makes things pleasant for all concerned during the course of their duties. By unifying diverse groups as well as matching similar personalities, it seems that many workplaces may have a winning recipe on hand for their group interactions.
Duhigg, C. (2016). What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. Nytimes.com. Retrieved 24 April 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html?_r=0
Haas, M., & Mortenson, M. (2016). The Secrets of Great Teamwork. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 24 April 2017, from https://hbr.org/2016/06/the-secrets-of-great-teamwork