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Is 'Being Nice' The Secret to Team Harmony and Productivity?

I'm a nice person!

At least, I like to think so. Sure, sometimes I get a little stressed and annoyed (particularly with service providers) but rarely with my team... Why? Well, I've always been like that, I've always believed in that old adage to "Treat people how you expect to be treated" 

Sure, mistakes are made in my team, I have even been known to make mistakes myself(!), but you must remember that like you, team members are only human too and you mostly don't have any idea what they are going through in other areas of their professional and private life.

Recently I've been reading about an initiative from Google, they had noticed that some of their teams worked much better than others and decided to initiate a plan to find out why. 

The project was called "Project Aristotle" and was a research project which basically found that the key to building a successful, productive team was having "nice people" on the team, go figure. They found that psychological safety was ranked number one in order of importance for team dynamics. 

Psychological safety? What does that even mean? Does it mean that everyone gets a hug and a dairy milk bar at the end of the day? Does it mean that no one ever criticises or challenges anyone else? Does it mean that everyone agrees with everything I say?

No, of course not. That would be crazy and ineffective. Psychological safety means that everyone feels comfortable speaking their mind, sharing their ideas, admitting their mistakes, and learning from each other. It means that everyone respects each other and trusts each other. It means that everyone has a voice and a value.

Employees felt it was far more important how team members worked and interacted with each other than the advanced skills and experience of that team. Being nice really is the key to building a more productive team. To me, that's not rocket science. 

In fact, Google found that individuals on teams with higher psychological safety are less likely to leave, they’re more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates, they bring in more revenue, and they’re rated as effective twice as often by their bosses.

So, I feel like I've been doing it right for all the years I've managed a team. Don't get me wrong... I'm still a manager, with all the horrible stuff that goes with it, sometimes you have to reprimand staff for example but there are processes for that, on the whole being nice and being fair is paramount when it comes to working with the people you spend your working day with. And... I can sleep better at night knowing I'm not contributing to anybody's stress unnecessarily. 

I'd be interested to hear about your experience of working in your teams (If you dare hehe).

Do you agree with the "be nice" approach? Or do you think that breeds the wrong working practices? There are certain bosses and team leaders out there who rule with an iron fist and intimidation, and that can't be more productive. Can it? 

If you find this article interesting, could you please do me a favour by sharing it or commenting below, I would love to hear your and other peoples' thoughts on this subject. Thank you

Date: 30 Mar 2023
Author: Craig Pickles (YorkshireTechy)