I’ve long been fascinated by team dynamics, on paid and volunteer teams. This week, I read an article that made me think more about the hiring pipeline and methods I utilized at a previous position, and I decided to brush it up a bit, while I’m at it. A couple of people have asked me about hiring and team building recently. Seems like it’d be good to have a blog post to point them at. 😉
I was reading a NY Times article titled “Why Some Teams are Smarter Than Others.” I take issue with the title, a little — what we think of as “smart” differs dramatically around the world, and is highly context-dependent. The author of the article pulls the term from the referenced studies, though, basically. They wrote, “On average, the groups that did well on one task did well on the others, too. In other words, some teams were simply smarter than others.” Doing well on a task is not the same thing as having higher intelligence, in my opinion.
At any rate, this NYT article discussed two study findings that were of interest to me about group dynamics and what makes for a productive, effective team. The first study referenced found that there were 3 characteristics of a more productive team: higher collaboration (teams not being dominated by one or two louder voices), higher scores on a test that essentially measures empathy, and higher number of women (a group of people who tend to score higher on aforementioned empathy scales). The second study referenced in the NYT article followed up with analysis of online versus face-to-face “group effectiveness” (aka team cohesion), and found that “the most important ingredients for a smart team remained constant regardless of its mode of interaction: members who communicated a lot, participated equally and possessed good emotion-reading skills.” The obvious question then becomes, how do you build a team that functions this way?
CLEVER, COMPETENT, AND KIND
Well, I know what that reminds me of! A few years ago, I sat down to chat with my friend Dan, and he gave me the three best employment requirements I’ve ever heard: CLEVER, COMPETENT, and KIND. These are required characteristics of anyone I’d like to call a colleague, whether it’s a paid position or volunteer work. I’ve used these requirements ever since that conversation, and I’m profoundly grateful to Dan for laying it all out for me so simply.