Two heads are better than one, the saying goes. But that doesn’t take into account how to make two, three, four or five heads work together as a team and build a successful group.
Over the decades, psychologists have learned some universal traits that good teams share, according to an article by Jeremy Dean on PsyBlog:
- Prioritize social skills. You might think that intelligence would be the most important factor in predicting a group’s success. But researchers have found in repeated studies that social skills beat out smarts. Look for those who will listen to others, share criticism constructively and have an open mind. Those are the people you want on your team.
- Mix genders. Recent research has found that teams that included women did better than men-only teams. But don’t take this to the other extreme, Dean cautions. A 2011 study found that teams with equal gender mixes outperformed male-only and female-only groups in a business exercise.
- Build trust. Obviously, it’s hard for people to work together if they do not trust one another. Another trust issue: “People perceive the trustworthiness of the group by assessing the least trustworthy member,” Dean says. To borrow a cliché, you’re only as strong as your weakest link.
- Use humor. When people start joking around together, it’s a sign that group dynamics are strong. Humor has been shown to reduce stress, boost creativity, communication and team cohesiveness.
- Mix introverts and extroverts. A 2012 study of introverts and extroverts working together found that while extroverts start out strong with good social skills and mix well with others, introverts start off unnoticed but come to be valued by the entire group.