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What Is The Secret Chemistry Of High-Performing Teams?

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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 - do we exchange?

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. PCM teaches a concept called Channels, which are the fundamental building blocks of communication exchanges – individualized for personality.

Engagement - balance in talking and listening

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

Exploration - what's happening outside?

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 to improve your team success:

  • 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.

Get started with your team

PCM is the premier tool for decoding human interactions. Practicing PCM teaches us how to observe our behaviors, which in turn lets us identify the communication strengths and preferences of ourselves and others. Based on what you observe, you will know what to do, say, and show in response so that you can make a genuine connection that works for you and your team members.

Originally posted on Next Element

About the Process Communication Model®
Nathalie Sloos - 22 March 2022
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