This article is based on the chapter with the same name in the book People Before Tech: The Importance of Psychological Safety and Teamwork in the Digital Age, by Duena Blomstrom.
It is undeniable that when we observe and measure the way successful and high performing teams interact, their behaviours are drastically different from those of their counterparts. We also know that the best performing teams have high degrees of Psychological Safety.
What science also shows is that improving the behaviour does improve the outcomes. Therefore, intently working to understand and foster good behaviours — as well as inhibit bad ones — will result in higher performance.
High performing teams consistently display these behaviours:
- They often display courage and vulnerability — they hold the emotional space to allow each other to feel safe. They rarely engage in impression management and are fearless.
- They are intently open — They take every opportunity to express their opinions with no filter or fear of retribution.
- They perceive high degrees of passion and have clarity on purpose — this makes them helpful, motivated and inspired and fosters a wider sense of belonging and connection to the rest of the enterprise.
- They display close emotional connection between team members and generally have high EQs, which means they are empathetic, caring and attentive.
- They have an overt willingness to tackle the human work (engage in team exercises, learn about the dynamic of their team, discuss things, be coached, etc.) on an ongoing basis.
- They score high on curiosity and a thirst to learn and grow — They are always excited about new ideas, constantly sharing, enjoy innovating, etc.
- They derive a sense of enjoyment from collaboration opportunities.
- They have a sense of agency that makes them feel valued and empowered and perceive their leadership as helpful (servant leadership).
- They report high degrees of trust inside and outside the team.
- They regard disagreements and conflict positively and view them as growth opportunities.
- They show a constant focus on results and performance and aren’t afraid to communicate a preoccupation with success and common outcomes.
By contrast, there are negative behaviours that teams display. By and large, while all teams engage in them from time to time, low performing teams are defined by a prevalence, and they are ubiquitous and institutionalised in their team culture.
Teams that don’t perform as well oftentimes show they are:
- Fearful and anxious;
- Constantly engaging in impression management;
- Avoiding confrontation but also dialogue — not speaking up — Closed off and non-communicative;
- Quick to assign blame/demand accountability;
- Have low levels of trust amongst each other and towards the enterprise;
- Display a reluctance to discuss human matters;
- Show avoidance to reaffirm purpose and impact — they feel disconnected from the enterprise and regard it as an “us vs. them” situation;
- Dread the common parts of the work — collaboration is not welcomed;
- Perpetuate “bad cultural norms” — a climate of hidden complaints, gossip, rumours, etc.
Over the next two articles we will delve deeper into the studies that exist, the data we found and the examples of these behaviours that we observed. So be sure to subscribe.
Come back next week to read about Good Behaviours and Components of Psychological Safety Explained