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Why a Bunch of Smart People Will Form the Worst Losing Team

Why a Bunch of Smart People Will Form the Worst Losing Team

Imagine you’ve just learned how to swim. Your lessons all took place inside a swimming pool, but now you’re on holiday and you want to try out your new skills by swimming in the sea. You have two options:

  1. Look for a beach with no safety nets or life guards.
  2. Look for a beach where there are safety nets and life guards.

    As a maiden sea swimmer – which one would you choose?

    Well, although you possess the necessary swimming skills, clearly, you wouldn’t choose option 1. Why? Because you wouldn’t feel safe wading into the sea knowing that there’d be no nets or lifeguards to help you if you got into trouble. Option 2 would be the obvious and sensible choice.

    The same principle as the above applies to working in a team. You have your skills – and your team members have theirs. But these skills will only be brought to the fore if you and your team members feel safe to explore your individual potential within the team environment.

    Let’s see how this works.

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    We all want a safe playground

    Tech giant Google spent two years studying 180 teams and found that one of the most important traits of an effective team was psychological safety. Psychological safety is a shared belief held by members of a team that the team space is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.[1]

      Google’s in-depth study, named Project Aristotle, was designed to discover why some teams failed and others succeeded. Prior to the study, Google executives believed that winning teams were made up of the best and most talented people. However, the results of the study showed something radically different.

      Here are the five key characteristics of successful teams (as determined by the Google study):

      1. Dependability – members of a team meet expectations to get things done on time.
      2. Structure and clarity – productive teams have clearly-defined goals, and each team member knows their role within the group.
      3. Meaning – the team’s work has personal significance to each member.
      4. Impact – team members believe their work has purpose and positively impacts the organisation, clients, etc.
      5. Psychological safety – a safe space where even the most introverted team member is comfortable expressing their opinions and ideas.

      Out of the five characteristics, the fifth one stood out, as researchers hadn’t anticipated this being a vital aspect of successful teams.

      Project Aristotle showed that teams with psychologically-safe environments had employees who were more likely to stay, more likely to harness the power of diversity, and ultimately – were more successful![2]

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        With safety comes freedom

        Psychological safety gives team members the freedom to fail without repercussions, while at the same time respecting and questioning different opinions. Psychological safety is also rooted in the fact that team members aren’t trying to undermine each other.

        I’m sure you’ve worked in teams where just a couple of loud, dominant people do all the talking – and make all the decisions. This type of team atmosphere is the opposite of the one fostered by psychological safety. In the latter model, people feel safe enough around one another to keep pitching new opinions, ideas and goals.

        Instead of a few people taking charge of a team’s direction, a team that has created a psychological safe space allows each team member to contribute fairly and evenly. Team members feel comfortable being honest with each other, and happily express their ideas and welcome feedback on them – rather than being worried that their ideas will be shot down in flames.

        Teams with psychological safety are completely different to what you might have experienced before. Everyone feels like they can speak up, and members can show they are sensitive to how one another feels. There’s no competition between team members, as the team’s achievements are the main focus at all times.

        The opposite of psychological safety is psychological danger. And as I’ve touched on, the latter has a negative impact on a team’s effectiveness, as well as proving to be demoralizing for the team members.

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          As the above image clearly shows, psychological danger creates a cycle of negativity – resulting in the closing down of ideas and opinions from most of the team members.

          In contrast, psychological safety encourages openness and freedom of expression. In turn, these lead to the team (and its members) being able to learn from failures, adapt to changes, and to become better innovators and decision-makers.

          At this stage, you may be wondering, how does a team move from an environment of psychological danger to psychological safety?

          The safety starts with the team leader

          Team leaders should model the correct behaviors by:

          • Not cutting-off team members’ conversations.
          • Demonstrating that they’re listening by recapping what people say.
          • Encouraging all team members to speak their ideas – including their frustrations.
          • Responding at all times in a nonjudgmental way. (Because judgmental responses discourage people from speaking up.)

          To give you an example of these traits in action, picture yourself in this scenario…

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          You’re the manager of a small team of IT support staff. Until now, your management style has been to tell people what to do. (On the basis that only you know what’s best for the team!)

          Your top-down, authoritative approach effectively led to your team members feeling uncomfortable about suggesting ideas. They worried that you would say (in front of the rest of the team) that their ideas were irrational, stupid or even worthless.

          However, by adopting the psychological safety approach, you would not give a thumb down to ideas and suggestions, but instead, would consider how the ideas could be used to boost your team’s success. You may have to ask more questions to get a full picture of the ideas that team members have. But, for sure, in many cases there will be great ideas that can be adopted. And as history shows, in many cases, major achievements come from seemingly minor and random ideas.

          When people feel safe to speak up, they become a winning team

          When the team member’s voices are smothered, the power of the team is significantly diminished. It’s only by allowing a free flow of ideas and suggestions that genuine progress towards goals can be made.

          For example, consider a young, up-and-coming pop band. Most of their music and lyrics are written by their talented and super-assured frontman. However, their introverted keyboard player has come up with a melody that is incredibly catchy.

          If the band were dominated by their frontman, the keyboard player could be reluctant to pitch his idea to the band. But if the band operated under the psychological safety framework, then the keyboard player would be happy to share his melody with his fellow band members. And here’s the interesting part. The keyboard player’s melody could be turned into a full song by the rest of the band – and if the stars aligned – it could be their first No. 1 hit!

          Winning teams are open teams, where each member enjoys playing their part. No ideas or suggestions are off limits. And within this powerful safe space, effective and progressive teams can chart their unique path to the top.

          So, if your team is currently in the danger zone, put the tips in this article into action – and start turning your team into a positive, unstoppable force.

          Reference

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

          What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are 10 Simple Strategies to Make Your Life Better Starting Today The Lifehack Show Episode 3: Why Validation is Key to Lasting Relationships How To Be A Successful Person (And What Makes One Unsuccessful)

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          Last Updated on July 17, 2019

          What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually)

          What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually)

          It’s Monday again… The annoying alarm breaks the piece of silence you are enjoying. You keep pressing snooze and don’t want to leave your bed. As the hour hand points to 8, every muscle in your body feels sore.

          You arrive your office and turn on the computer at your seat. Everything seems so normal, except your mind wanders… you’re feeling bored at work…

          If this sounds familiar to you, chances are you feel bored at work, and you are probably here to look for ways to get rid of this dreadful situation.

          In this article, I’ll look into why you may feel bored at work, the little-known consequence of it and what to do when bored at work.

          The Real Reason Why You’re Bored at Work

          Boredom reveals the potential problems you have at work:

          Your interest and your work don’t match.

          It’s very common that our work doesn’t match our interest, but we might not realize it sometimes. It’s good for you to think about why you applied for this job and why you started your job at the first place:

          Because the salary was attractive? Or you had no other options but this job interview? Or you just wanted a new environment?

          If these are your major concerns, you need to reconsider your interests in this job.

          You’re not using your capabilities fully.

          Everyone has their strengths and talents. When your capabilities are not fully utilized at your job, you may find the assigned tasks not challenging at all.

          Worse still, you may start to question your value in your company and gradually lose motivation at work.

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          You have little opportunity for growth and learning.

          Imagine you do the same tasks for two weeks, or two months, or two years, over and over. How would you feel? I’m sure you’ll be bored to death.

          If your company doesn’t provide enough opportunities to grow and learn, and you can’t see any improvement, you will start to get disappointed and probably feel bored at your job.

          You have too much idle time.

          It’s important to take breaks at work. But when you are too free, it is a problem.

          When you have too much idle time, your mind wanders off to somewhere else:

          Thinking about where to eat, your relationship problems, or what your neighbor said this morning.

          Although your mind is occupied, these thoughts are generated because you are bored.

          You feel exhausted and tired.

          You have so many goals to achieve in life or things to manage beyond work. It’s easy to shift your attention and energy away from your work because you are too occupied with other parts of your life.

          While you pay less effort at work, the less motivated and interested you are in your job, which in turn bores you even more.

          You have no clear goal.

          People who have stayed in a position for a long time easily feel lost.

          You start to get confused with what you want to obtain from the job. You get used to your repeating daily routine and gradually lose your passion and interests in your job.

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          The Little-Known Consequences of Ignoring Your Boredom

          You might think it’s okay to deal with your boredom later, but the longer you put this problem on hold, the more consequences you will face.

          Don’t ignore your boredom, it might take a toll on you!

          Increased stress

          A number of readers of Stress Relief Workshop commented:[1]

          • Boring jobs can be really stressful.
          • Feeling like your skills are going to waste in your current job can be stressful.

          Developing bad habits

          Experts reckon people relieve their boredom by drinking alcohol, indulging in unhealthy food, or carrying out risky actions at work.

          When you leave your problem unsolved, you might find stimulation elsewhere to override your boredom.

          Poor mental health

          A study[2] shows an upsetting fact young adults or fresh graduates may develop depressions or black moods, because they:

          “find themselves having to do work that doesn’t stretch them and keep them fulfilled.”

          Low productivity

          Like I mentioned before, when you are bored and uninterested in what you do, your productivity drops drastically.

          6 Things to Do When You’re Bored at Work

          Boredom won’t go away unless you take actions.

          So how to cure boredom? Fortunately there are ways you can change the situation:

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          1. Tell your boss or supervisor about your working situation

          It’s always good for you to talk to your boss or supervisor if they welcome feedback. They should be the right people to talk to as they can understand and help you.

          You can request for more challenging tasks or work that fit your interests. This can not only get you out from boredom, your boss will also appreciate your willingness to improve and learn.

          2. Try to do more than you are expected to

          To use your ability and time fully, try to do more than what your boss requires. After you finish the repetitive or unchallenging tasks, spend some time to take on tasks that are beyond your responsibilities.

          As time goes by, your boss will notice and recognize your work ethic. You may get interesting tasks in the future to keep you going!

          3. Learn new skills when you are free

          If you have too much downtime, expand your knowledge and learn something new. A well-equipped person is always the gem in a boss’ eyes.

          For example, if you work in the design team but are not familiar with the use of design software, it’s a good chance for you to have some self-learning time.

          4. Know what you want from your job

          This is important — when you know your goal, it can motivate you to work!

          It’s fine to take some time to discover your goal and passion. But please remember to jot it down on a note and stick it on your desk as a reminder.

          You may also consider some career advice if you need help.

          5. Take breaks to fight exhaustion

          Taking rest is a preparatory step for a longer journey ahead. Don’t ever hesitate to take a break. You need it!

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          It’s crucial for you if you want to achieve more. Just get back to work when you feel ready. Don’t underestimate the power of a short break!

          6. Quit your job if it’s holding you back

          If you still find your work boring after trying every single method above, you should consider quitting your current job.

          Opportunities are everywhere, there may be a better job waiting for you.

          Make a change in your life and treat yourself better!

          Final Thoughts

          When you feel bored at work, it’s actually a warning sign you shouldn’t overlook. It could mean you’re missing a purpose in life.

          If you let this boredom continue, you’re putting your mental health and happiness at stake.

          Stop doing the same thing every day and let yourself feel bored. Start making a change to make yourself feel enthusiastic again about your career and your life.

          Featured photo credit: officevibe via officevibe.com

          Reference

          [1] Life Stress Balls: Stress at work
          [2] Sunday Post: Being bored at work is bad for your health

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