In 2012 Google embarked on an initiative—code-named “Project Aristotle”—to study hundreds of Google teams and figure out why some stumbled while others soared. Were the best teams made up of people with similar personalities? Similar interests? Did it matter if teammates socialized outside the office? Or did it matter whether everyone was motivated by the same kinds of rewards?
What they found is that the individuals—their personality types, skills or backgrounds—didn’t matter. Who was on the team wasn’t important. What distinguished the good teams from the dysfunctional was how teammates treated one another. The highest-performing teams have one thing in common: psychological safety. “Psychological safety” is the belief that you won’t be punished or ridiculed if you make a mistake. Studies show that psychological safety fosters the inter-personal risk-taking, candor, and creativity.