What Is The Secret Chemistry Of High-Performing Teams?

Posted on April 1, 2019 by Nate Regier / 0 comments
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I am reposting this article because it’s as true today as it was three and a half years ago when it originally posted. Last week our team had a mini retreat to step back and reflect on how we were functioning as a team. As we evolve and grow it’s important that we tend to the team dynamics so critical to our success. What we realized again is that what really keeps us happy and productive isn’t the content of what we are doing, but how we are with each other while doing it.

Research conducted at MITs Human Dynamics Laboratory has shown that how people communicate within teams is the most important predictor of the team’s success. Not only that, these patterns of communication are as significant as all other factors – intelligence, personality, skill, and the content of what is being discussed – combined.

While it seems counter-intuitive to suggest that how we communicate is more important than what we communicate, MIT’s research has demonstrated across multiple industries and teams that the key to high performance lays not in the content of a team’s discussions, but the manner in which they are communicating.

The original article, The New Science of Building Great Teams, was published in the Harvard Business Review, and outlined three key elements of effective communication:


Energy is measured by the number and nature of exchanges among team members. A single exchange is defined as a comment and some form of acknowledgment. The Process Communication Model (PCM®) teaches a concept called Channels, which are the fundamental building blocks of communication exchanges – individualized for personality.


Engagement reflects the distribution of energy among team members. Teams make more profitable decisions when energy is evenly distributed among team members.


Exploration involves communication that team members engage in with other teams, i.e. the energy between the team and other teams it interacts with. Higher-performing teams seek more outside connections.

Other key findings

  • Individual talent and reasoning skill contribute far less to team success than previously thought.
  • The least valuable forms of communication are texting and e-mail.
  • Social times are deeply critical to team performance.
  • The best leaders circulate actively, engaging people in short, high-energy conversations, are democratic with their time, feel comfortable approaching others, listen as much or more than they talk, and are usually very engaged with whomever they are listening to.

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2019

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