NORMS OF COOPERATION - what are they and how to support them?

Good cooperation leads to synergy, i.e. to the achievement of a result that outweighs the results achieved by actions of individuals. Cooperation gives us an opportunity for development - it allows to exchange knowledge, experience, take advantage of a greater number of potential solutions, gain a broader perspective on the assessment of the situation in which we find ourselves. Employers know about it, so they entrust us with tasks that we are not able to perform without the help of others. We create teams, which on the way to achieving the set goal must communicate effectively. This is the reality of most companies.

Szefowie Google’a, którego struktura jako firmy również opiera się na pracy w zespołach, postanowili zbadać, od czego zależy efektywność tych jednostek. Przystąpiono do pracy mierzącej efektywność zespołów Google’a w projekcie Aristotle project. The title is inspired by the figure of Aristotle - it is this Greek philosopher who is credited with the sentence "the whole is more than the sum of its parts", which we usually quote when writing about synergy and cooperation. 180 teams were examined, collecting data on the composition of individuals and their dynamics (ways of functioning).

The results of the study indicated that the level of effectiveness of employees is less influenced by the composition of the team itself, and much more significant in this context are the behaviours perceived as standards binding in the team.

Research has shown that the most important factor influencing the effectiveness of team work in Google is the so-called psychological safety (more about it here). It can be defined as the level of safety among team members when interacting with each other, including risk-taking and sensitivity to each other. The highest levels of effectiveness were achieve by these teams at Google where the current standards of cooperation supported a sense of safety in team interactions. The team leader has a great influence on the shaping of these principles of cooperation, as it is he/she who models the behaviours that are accepted as binding by the team members.

What specific standards of cooperation support team effectiveness according to the study?

Equal right to be heard of all team members.

People involved in the dialogue get a signal that their opinion is important, that it counts in the team - this feeling can influence their motivation. Creating a space in which everyone can express themselves and come up with an idea for solving the situation discussed by the team supports the sense of efficiency and responsibility for working together.

How to support team development as a leader?

Do not interrupt other people's statements. Manage meeting times. Make sure that everyone can express themselves equally, so that one person does not dominate others.

Allowing mistakes to be made

Employees who are not afraid to talk about their mistakes allow the team to learn from mistakes, draw conclusions and develop. Disclosing mistakes helps to avoid correcting and improving those places that need to be changed.

How to support team development as a leader?

Don't ridicule mistakes and slips of language, don't punish for mistakes. Encourage questions. Show yourself that sometimes you don't know and are open to finding solutions together.

Open communication

Team members can express their opinions, even if they are radically different from most people's opinions, allowing mutual respect among colleagues. This principle is especially important in the context of the so-called syndrome of group thinking, when there may be a threat in the decision-making process of a coherent group in the form of focusing on maintaining group cohesion rather than on solving the problem.

How to support team development as a leader?

Encourage feedback. Listen to all voices. Do not underestimate minority opinions.

Active listening

Basic competence for successful communication and cooperation. The message requires an active recipient - the listener.

How to support team development as a leader?

Give time and attention to the interlocutor. Look at him/her when he/she speaks. Do not interrupt. Paraphrase his/her words. Make sure you have understood them correctly.


High average social sensitivity in the team - people able to recognize the emotions of other people. When you don't have to hide yourself, your emotions, you feel safe.

How to support team development as a leader?

Notice the emotions of team members, do not pretend that nothing happens. Ask about the needs and status of employees.

Supporting these behaviours affects the feeling of safety, which is one of the key factors influencing the effectiveness of Google teams. It's a good idea to look at these results and see if and how they can be used in the team we manage or work for.

More details about the study: