Consider a team that works hard, never misses a deadline… but hates working together.
Would you call them high-achieving?
We didn’t think so. We wanted to get to the heart of what really makes teams successful. So we surveyed 1,100 U.S. workers in engineering, IT, marketing, legal, HR, finance, and design about their organizations. Across all these different departments and industries, we found a common thread between high-achieving teams: an open work style.
“Open” has become a very trendy buzzword these days. You’ll read about open floorpan offices, open-door office policies, and open company forums. While we wish it were as easy as knocking down a few cubicle walls and taking questions from employees, this is not really what open work is.
Open work is a mindset, a culture, and a set of practices that moves work forward. It’s something we’ve been practicing at Atlassian for a long time and what we believe is the secret of truly happy and effective teams.
How an Open work style works out
Here are three of the core practices of an open style and how they measured up in our research:
1. Shared context
Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t really know how your work fit in to the overall story? How did you feel about your job? Proud, engaged?
Teams that don’t understand the importance of their work don’t perform well. Turns out, people don’t like to feel like they’re cogs in a machine. They want to understand the importance of their work, how it fits into the overall company mission, and how it’s bringing value to the world. This is what we call having a shared context.
In our research we found that among high-achieving teams, 66% understand why their work matters as compared with just 25% on low-achieving teams.
2. Direct feedback
We know its hard to give good feedback. Oftentimes, it’s easier to just put your head down and avoid any potential conflict. But it’s counterproductive.
An open workstyle invites feedback and input from all members of a team, regardless of where they fall on the org chart. Our research found that high-achieving teams feel free to give honest feedback (57%), compared to 15% of low-performing teams.
3. Access to information
Information is currency. It’s an important status signifier. Many times, the more information you have, the better you feel. But information shouldn’t be hoarded. Open teams should be sharing the power of knowledge across their company to make everyone’s work better.
More than half of high-achieving teams feel they have easy access to the information they need, putting them at a big advantage compared to low-achieving teams.
We believe we’ve uncovered a compelling link between openness and team success, a hunch that we’ve had over the past several years as we’ve seen open work come to life at Atlassian and among our customers. Openness is really hard to adopt, but it is so worth the effort. It will help your team achieve more, and feel better individually. Learn more about Open and get all the details of our study on our research page.