Do high-performing teams communicate more than low-performing teams? 🤔
If you think "Yes!", you may want to reconsider. Scientific studies often find the reverse. When researchers compare high-performing teams with low-performing teams, they consistently find that high-performing teams communicate less. This has been observed with flight crews, nuclear plant control crews, and work teams.
These teams have not developed telepathy, but they've learned so well what is expected of each other that they don’t need to communicate explicitly for day-to-day coordination. This effectively keeps a lot of their bandwidth open for problem-solving, critical communication, and maintaining focus - and that makes them more effective.
There is so much to unpack here. It tells us much about cross-functionality, team cognition, and what it takes to grow high-performing teams. In a very practical sense, I think it shows us how important it is to develop work agreements and mental team models about how to:
- Coordinate work
- Coordinate the use and application of skills
- Coordinate the navigation of conflict
- Coordinate psychologically safety (the proper kind)
- Coordinate dealing with work pressure and stress
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