Today, on an e z p z day with only two practices, I invested a few more hours hitting the books. Specifically, I’m devouring the book titled Smarter Faster Better, by Charles Duhigg. He’s the dude who wrote about the power of habit and seems to love studying the brain – gotta love that, right.
Well, he does a little chapter on what makes great teams, so I was especially interested to read his latest research. Turns out he mostly focuses on the research done by Google that was recently completed after years of, you guessed it, accumulating more data analytics than mere mortals could imagine. Googles discovery is mind blowing in its simplicity and difficulty. The common denominator, if you will, of great teams whether sport, music, ministry, mass merchandise, media, or something as mundane as credit and collections kinda teams, is the level of “psychological safety,” according to Laszlo Bock, head of People Operations at Google.
Alrighty then, lets unpack this new term. What exactly, I wonder, is psychological safety. According to Duhigg, “Psychological safety is a ‘shared belief,’ held by members of a team, that the group is a safe place for taking risks.” Sounds simple. Great teams are safe. This safety creates an uncommon sense of togetherness. What, you ask are the key behaviors Google identified that build psych safety? Good question.
The answer is BTL practice. You see, according to Google the great teams number one behavior is that all team members play and the best indicator of them playing is how they talk. Google recommends their version of speaking and listening and it’s very close to BTL style. They track teammates words in meetings and aim for “roughly the same amount.” We just give everybody the chance to speak, at BTL. We play to what we call your “justice thread.” Don’t bother googling that term, I made it up. The second behavior that builds psychological safety, according to Google, is looking teammates in the eye, reading body language, and being curious when someone is tweaked vs going all turtle. They use the same Simon Baron – Cohen test we’ve been using for years to measure teammates ability to read emotion. Google’s data analytics have proven this matters. Again, this is why we practice curious questions, questions that lead to understanding, as the bolted on habit of BTL team practice. Only once you’ve built enough trust do we follow the curious question with the challenging one. Of course this kinda talking takes time and feels way out of control for most leaders. Google isn’t deterred. They are simply going around and teaching their leaders to model the way as, you guessed it, master listeners. Funny, huh.
So, there you have it. Google say’s it’s so. So it is. We’ve been talking like this for fifteen years now at BTL. Who knew we were such a psychologically safe space. Who knew? Thanks Google for the nod to what we intuitively already know. The best teams are the teams that talk, really talk. Everybody speaks and, more importantly, everybody feels heard. We ask tons of questions, assume less, avoid triple d, go all ccd, and put justice threads back in line. ‘Cause, friend, speaking and listening, BTL style is always under construction, just like all great teams and leaders. Never stop. Keep working. Keep working. Keep working. Mastery in the making. Good.
See you at the next practice. We’ll Talk – ‘Cause Google say’s it’s so…