We've all been to those meeting where one person (often, a manager) does the talking the majority of the time. To little surprise, a Google study suggests that the most collaborative teams do the opposite: Everyone speaks equally. Photo by Marcin Wichary.
The iDoneThis blog describes Google's "Project Aristotle" internal study, in which the search company studied its own team dynamics. In the most collaborative Google teams, no one person took over 80 per cent or more of the conversation:
Since the conversation wasn't monopolized by one person, they were able to ask clarifying questions and give their input. In situations where only one person speaks, team members didn't feel comfortable voicing their ideas, chiming in on other peoples', or correcting their more vocal team members' mistakes. Imbalanced communication, in short, defeated the purpose of collaborating in the first place.
Everyone on the team wasn't necessarily forced to speak (the way some classes force students to talk by "going around the room", which can be a painful practice for more shy or reserved people). However, it was more of a tacit agreement that everyone could engage in conversational turn-taking.
It's not just that more people talking = more collaboration. Those teams that had the "equal speaking" social code were more likely to bring in more revenue, be rated as effective and stay longer at their jobs at Google.
How comfortable do your team members feel giving their input?
Google's Unwritten Rule for Team Collaboration [iDoneThis Blog]