Have you heard? Psychological safety is the key to high-performance teams at Google.
Google is full of high-performers, both individuals and teams. Some teams at Google really stand out—they are the highest of the high-performing teams. At Google, they want all the teams to be the highest of the high-performing, so they spun up a research project called Project Aristotle to figure out the recipe for the best teams.
There are hundreds of attributes of high-performance teams that various researchers have documented over the years. Google’s researchers invited around 200 teams to participate in the project. The researchers measured each team on various attributes that might correlate to high performance. They also measured each team’s actual performance so they could identify the high-performers.
Psychological safety was the one thing that correlated most to high-performance at Google. Psychological safety is the sense that you’ll be OK with your teammates no matter what. You are free to be yourself. You can admit you don’t know something. You can ask for help. It’s safe to take risks without fear of embarrassment. And executives notice—executives rate psychologically safe teams as high performers twice as often as other teams.
Google’s work is good science—they notice that when a team measures high on psych safety, the team also measures high on performance. That’s correlation. Google runs workshops to raise awareness of psych safety with their teams. But they don’t teach specific skills for psych safety.
That’s where the Core Protocols come in. The Core Protocols are easy, specific behaviors your team can practice to get into a state of psychological safety and high performance. I’ll share more on the Core Protocols in articles.