Could it be that top Google employees were succeeding despite their technical training, not because of it?
In 2013 Google launched Project Oxygen to test their hiring, firing and promotion data hypothesis and to discover what the top characteristics of success at Google are.
They crunched data accumulated since the company’s incorporation in 1998. Results shocked everyone by concluding the top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills:
- being a good coach
- communicating and listening well
- possessing insights into others
- having empathy
- being supportive
- being a good critical thinker and problem solver
- being able to make connections across complex ideas
In spring 2017 Google released results of Project Aristotle that analyzed data on inventive and productive teams. Over two years they conducted 200+ employee interviews and looked at more than 250 attributes of 180+ active Google teams. Results further supported the importance of soft skills.
After bringing in anthropologists and ethnographers to dive even deeper into the data the analysis revealed, that Google’s most important and productive new ideas come from teams comprised of employees who don’t always have to be the smartest people in the room.
Not surprisingly study showed that top of the list on what set successful teams apart from other teams at Google is Psychological safety.
Who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions.