Teams are highly interdependent. They plan, solve, make decisions and review progress collaboratively because they rely on each other to get the work done. So, what are the best ways to engage a team? Luckily for us, Google conducted research on 180 of its own teams over several years to determine what factors create a highly successful team.

Google found that maximizing team engagement begins with psychological safety. This is foundational to the individual’s perception of what the consequences are of taking risks within the group. Teams thrive when members are able to freely express themselves and their ideas are not usurped by others on the team.

The second factor is dependability. On engaged teams, members reliably complete quality work on time. When members hold each other accountable, free riders are shown the door.

The third is structure and clarity. It’s important to clearly communicate individual and team expectations, the process for fulfilling these expectations, team member roles and the consequences of success or failure. Initial alignment and regular realignment help individuals focus on the most relevant work. Specific, measurable and attainable goals, both short and long-term, should be clear for the individuals and the group.

Meaning and impact are the fourth and fifth items. Combined, they emphasize the need for a sense of purpose in the work itself and in the results the team delivers. Psychologically, we all want to know that our effort makes a difference. Firms that are good at connecting the impact of the team’s work to the department, division or corporate objectives will maximize engagement of their teams.

The path to improving engagement with a team is to intentionally work toward integrating these foundational steps.

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