Does your job require a lot of teamwork? Are you often assigned to work with groups of people to get various projects done? If so, then you’ve probably experienced what it’s like to be on a successful team. Successful teams are friendly, creative, empowering, and productive. They make any project seem like it can be easily managed. No obstacle is too great!

But I’m sure there have been other times when you’ve been a part of a team that hasn’t been so successful. With unsuccessful teams, there’s often a lot of tension, misunderstandings, and a frustrating lack of progress. When you’re a part of one of these teams, a project can often seem insurmountable and never-ending.

So what makes a team successful? Research indicates that it really boils down to just two things:

  1. On successful teams, team members take turns talking. Everyone gets the chance to talk, and each team member speaks for roughly the same amount of time. No one is dominating the conversation, and everyone has the chance to share his or her thoughts and opinions.
  2. People on successful teams are good at determining how other team members are feeling. They’re able to pick up on the verbal and nonverbal cues that indicate when certain team members are feeling frustrated or left out. And if they sense that a team member is unhappy, they’ll work to remedy the situation.

These two qualities help to create an environment in which team members feel encouraged to speak and share their opinions. The team members know they won’t be belittled or judged. Basically, they feel safe.

And it’s as simple as that! When people feel safe, are allowed to contribute, and feel confident that their opinions will be respected and valued, the team will be more successful. They’ll have a much easier time communicating, working together, and getting things done.


Duhigg, C. (2016, February 25). What Google learned from its quest to build the perfect team. The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved from

Woolley, A. W., Chabris, C. F., Pentland, A., Hashmi, N., & Malone, T. W. (2010). Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups. Science, 330, 686-688.