Google Analyzed 180 Teams for Two Years and Found These 5 Common Traits


What is the first thing that pops up in your mind when you hear the word “Google”? Did you say, “Search engine”? If yes, then you are undermining Google to say the least. Google has achieved more than you can think so much so that it is hard to discuss in this space. It has left indelible marks not only in tech but also in other domains. Today, I am going to tell you about one such project Google has undertook which most people do not know about.

Project Aristotle, Google’s effort to unlock the secrets of successful teams brought together its brightest talent. The goal is to know why some teams excel and other falls short. Google studied 180 teams for two years and conducted more than 200 interviews. They evaluated teams based on 250 different characteristics and found five common traits of successful teams.

Before the study was conducted, even Google executive have the view that successful teams are formed with highly qualified people. Hire a computer scientist that has an MBA and a PhD to go with it. After analyzing the findings of this study, Julia Rozovsky, People Analytics Manager at Google admitted, “We were dead wrong.” It changed their mindset altogether and the hiring process.

Here are five common traits that separate successful teams from not so successful ones.

1. Clear Goals and Defined Roles

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into visible.”—Tony Robbins

High performing and highly successful teams are crystal clear about their goals. More importantly, these teams have well defined roles and each team member knows what they have to do to achieve the common goal. This provides a clear direction to team members and they clearly know what their managers expect from them. This boosts employee productivity as every team member knows the next step they have to take. More importantly, it prevents any conflicts too. With each team member playing their part, successful teams achieve their targets with time to spare.

2. Reliability and Consistency

What separates high performing teams from average teams is that they challenge themselves to break barriers. Successful teams always set highest standards not only for themselves but also for others to follow. They do not stop there because winning teams knows that setting standards will not guarantee success until they meet them and meet them consistently. Great teams put great performances consistently and that is the reason behind their success.

3. Impactful

As Steve Jobs, greatest visionary of our generation, once said, “We are here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise, why else even be here.” He laid down the rules for successful teams to follow. If you want to become a successful team, you will have to make a positive impact in the world. Look at the best companies and teams around the world and you will soon realize that they changed our lives with their work. That is what making an impact is all about, transforming the lives of the people and making this world a better place to live.

4. Freedom of Expression and Ability to Take Risk

Imagine you are at a meeting and you do not agree with something and want to share your idea but could you do that? No. That is how rigid our team environment is where one person speaks and all others listen quietly. If you want to conduct fruitful meetings and want to achieve success, you will have to establish a two-way communication channel. Give your team members freedom to express and share their ideas with you. You never know where the idea for next big product is coming from.

Secondly, successfully teams have the ability to take risks. Winning teams believe in formula of “Higher the risk, higher the reward” formula and do not afraid to throw caution to the wind and take calculated risks. As Mark Zukerberg said, “The biggest risk is not taking any risks. In a world that is changing very quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

5. Sense of Personal Achievement

Another differentiating factor that propels successful teams to a completely new level is the sense of personal achievement. Each team member thinks of work as something as a personal milestone. When they add a personal touch to the goals, it tends to bring the best out of them. Their commitment and engagement is completely different as compared to when they think of the goal as a company’s goal. In short, team members of a successful team take the ownership for their actions.

What do you think is the key characteristics of successful teams? Feel free to share it with us in comments section below.