Hey, Google. How can I have successful teamwork?

65% of startups that fail are due to problems with people.

Google designed the FoundersLabs based on the experience that the company has accumulated for years. This initiative is now available to Latin American entrepreneurs. One of the last problems addressed has been how to form successful teams within a company.

FoundersLab is a one-day workshop developed by Google Developers. The company has spread the initiative in different cities in the region, such as Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Quito, Cali (Colombia), and Mexico City, always with the support of allies from incubators local. Events are usually made by invitation, but on the last occasion in Buenos Aires, an open call was made to the A3 business community, one of the local allies of Google. Google Developers hopes to replicate this model in more cities in the region.

How to form a successful team?

Building a successful team seems simple: if you put the best professionals to do their best work, the result will be the best possible product. Although the idea makes perfect sense, Google experts found that the equation was more complicated.

The magic formula is really to train managers to do their best work. In this way, it is possible to improve the performance of the work teams significantly. The Google People Analytics team reached this conclusion after years of work, where they investigated the performance of the groups within the organization.

All this accumulated knowledge supported not only by the experience within the company but also by the academic research of some of the best organizational psychologists in the world is now available to Latin American entrepreneurs thanks to Google FoundersLab.

In the FoundersLab workshop, the teams participated in several dynamics of interpersonal problem solving, communication, and coaching techniques that helped them focus on one of their main tasks as entrepreneurs: managing their teams. In the end, each of the founders took a series of functions to implement in their daily routines with their equipment.

“Focusing on the task and the product 120% of the time is a mistake because you have to focus on the human factor. And all the people who make up your startup have their problems, depressions, errors, etc. – explains Francisco Solsona, leader of Google Developers in Latin America. It is important, then, to understand them and be there to help them more comprehensively.”

The human factor, key to the success of a venture

The human factor depends mostly on your success or failure as entrepreneurs. According to a survey of risk investors published in 2013, 65% of startups that fail do so due to “problems with people,” while only 35% of these failures are due to product or market problems.

65% of startups that fail are due to problems with people

In addition to learning about Google’s experience in team leadership, workshop attendees also exchange experiences and ideas with each other. In a segment of the workshop, they all expose a problem they have in their startups and receive solution ideas from the rest of the group.

“One would think that, as they have just met, they would only bring trivial problems to the table. But we have to see that they discuss super personal problems or sensitive issues of their organizations, and the advice given is incredible,” says Solsona.

It is not only a moment to refine the interpersonal skills of the founders, but also with a better knowledge of who they are and what they are looking for as entrepreneurs and as people. As Tomas Lakub, founder of Simpleat, says, “the course made us give ourselves one day to think of ourselves as founders, think of the team, learn and think in the medium term.”

The keys to a good team

The People Ops team’s investigation concluded that there are vital points that make teams better:

  • Strictly define culture: What is your mission? How do you communicate? , etc.
  • Having a high-performance dynamic: That is, having a set of psychological and interpersonal skills that improve the ability to work in a team:
  • Psychological safety: have space to ‘take interpersonal risks’ and have divergent positions without fear of reprisals.
  • Dependability: being able to trust that each team member will do their part of the job.
  • Structure: clarity with the functions, procedures, and delivery times of tasks.
  • Meaning: clarity of the reasons why tasks are done. That is, “let people know why they do what they do,” explains Solsona.
  • Impact: clarity about what is expected to be achieved with the work.
  • Focus on people: Always keep in mind that the needs and interaction between team members is one of the most critical areas of running a startup.

What does your organization do to improve the performance of work teams?