For a team to operate at an optimal level, members must trust and respect each other and feel a sense of connection to the group, says Professor Kristin J. Behfar of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.
Team members need to believe they are all making consistent contributions to the project, Behfar says. When individuals believe they’ve done more work than their teammates—what’s known as a self-serving bias—these workers are seen as unlikable by the rest of the group and have less interest in working with the same team again. Mitigating this bias requires a combination of “team satisfaction” and “psychological safety.”
Team satisfaction is a shared sense of happiness and belonging, a connection between team members. This connection allows members to pay greater attention to the actions and contributions of their teammates, making them less likely to feel they are doing all the work themselves.
Psychological safety refers to a culture of trust and respect, where team members feel comfortable asking for help and questioning assumptions. They value each other’s unique skills and are able to take risks without fear of finger-pointing or shame. The contributions of each member are more visible and bias is mitigated.
For more information, see “Credit Where Credit Is Due: Creating Teams Without a Self-Serving Bias.”