The Idea: Recent research by Bulldog Solutions uncovered that organizations with deeply aligned sales and marketing teams drive three times the revenue growth as poorly aligned competitors. And they are 67 percent better at closing deals. What makes these teams more successful than others?

Cultures beat strategy every time. And new research from top firms have solidified what we’ve all known – and felt – for years: it’s the soft stuff that’s valuable.

An HBR article from earlier this year states that 75 percent of an employee’s day is now spent communicating with his or her coworkers in one way or another. This means that both the learning process, and the productivity that is required on the job, need to be optimized within a person’s team, and within their approach to teamwork.

We live in a “data saturated age” but the art of collaboration is as pertinent as ever before. It is the new normal, and you must be good at it to thrive.

Similarly, new research from Google, called “Project Aristotle” sought to better prescribe the necessary features of successful teams. By studying over a hundred teams – their characteristics, and their results – they were able to decipher a few crucial elements to have a winning culture.

So what were the traits of the individuals within the team that led to the group excelling? What differentiated mediocre teams from the best?

The behaviors and unwritten rules that take effect when we are in a group are the secrets to winning cultures. These norms have been proven to override how we behave individually. To appreciate them is to win.

How individuals treat one another in a team has a profound effect on the success of the team, including the collective intelligence of the team.

Google discovered two specific attributes of teams that highly correlated to success or failure:

    1. Conversational turn-taking – ”As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well, but if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.” Do you encourage a culture of listening?
    2. Average social sensitivity – the very best teams were “skilled at intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other nonverbal cues.” In other words, strong emotional intelligence and sensitivity towards teammates’ feelings were the cornerstones of a strong team. Do you encourage a culture of empathy?

Teams that created safe, non-threatening cultures fueled collaboration and energy rather than stress, and irritation. Allowing candid talk led people to bring up the small irritations that occur on the job more easily, which helped resolve the issues more quickly.

When people work together in teams, it has been proven that innovation increases; mistakes and solutions are found more swiftly, and profitability dramatically increases.

Cultures that create safety and a “climate of openness” – tap into a team’s ability to risk, express ideas and convey their true feelings.

No one wants to put on their “work face” on the job. We want our best selves to pour out, and this only occurs when a culture is safe.

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”
– Simon Sinek