In 2009 Google set out to answer a simple question: How do you build the “perfect team?”
Google had already spent over a decade and millions of dollars collecting data on everything from who was eating together in the cafeteria to the traits of effective managers.1
Now they were assembling a team to analyze the data to figure out how to build the most effective, well… team. They called the initiative Project Aristotle.
Your family is a team and if it isn’t functioning as such, that is–a group of people working toward a common goal, then you may need to adjust that mindset before doing anything else.
The common goal of your team isn’t necessarily one collective goal, though an argument could probably be made for happiness as that goal. The goal of the team is to work toward the goals of each member of the team. Maybe one parent has career goals, while another has a hobby related goal. One child might have sports goals and the other academic. The team may have several projects with several goals, but should work to balance the focus across each member’s projects to ensure that each goal gets attention.
Now that you are looking at your family as a team, you can peek inside the research from Google’s Project Aristotle and apply it to your family unit.
Google found that there were five qualities that made a team successful.
- Psychological Safety
- Structure and Clarity
This element was found to be the most important of the five keys. If psychological safety is present in your family members, that means that they feel safe to speak their mind. There isn’t one individual who does all the talking and makes all the decisions. Nobody is put down. Everybody has an equal say, is listened to, and respected.
With Psychological Safety, everyone feels safe contributing ideas and opinions. And according to Google, a team that values input from all of its members, young and old, male and female, is more likely to succeed.
When someone has a task, be it household chores, fixing a broken appliance, picking up dinner, etc. They shouldn’t have to worry whether or not it will get done, or whether or not it will get done right. A successful family knows they can depend on each member. But keep in mind, dependability shouldn’t be limited to the simple chores and tasks. It should also apply to how you help each other emotionally–cheer for each other, provide a shoulder to cry on, give advice, show love.
Structure and Clarity
Whose job is it to cut the grass, make dinner, take out the trash, pick up the kids? Who wakes up to calm a screaming baby at 5am? Is there a calendar for soccer practice, personal time, family gatherings? And on a higher level, what are you working toward as a family? Saving money for a new house? Make sure everyone understands what the plan is and why your buying generic ice cream instead of Ben and Jerry’s. Working toward financial independence? Aiming for a traditional retirement at 65? What are your goals? Is everyone aware of the collective goals and is everyone working toward them?
Is there meaning to every family member’s life or does the world revolve around little Timmy’ Baseball schedule?
Every member of the team should be actively pursuing the things that give their life meaning. Make sure you know what’s important to each member of your family.
Does each family member feel like they are contributing to someone or something outside of themselves? Are they creating positive change in the world? Do they feel it has an impact? This relates directly to one of Tony Robbins’ 6 basic human needs: Contribution. How is your family contributing?
Your family is a team. Though teams are made of individuals, they must work together to thrive. Google knows that. That’s why they spent so much time and money figuring out which elements were necessary to increase their teams’ odds of success.
These 5 keys probably won’t give Google the perfect team every time. Let’s face it. People are fickle. He who is dependable today may not be tomorrow. But we can still benefit from Google’s resources and use their research to make our families operate more like teams.