A few years ago, Google conducted a massive internal study to understand how to build an effective team. Researchers concluded that the most important ingredient for good teamwork was psychological safety—in which members of a team feel comfortable expressing conflicting opinions and taking risks, knowing that their colleagues have their back.
The news gets worse from there. According to a 2009 paper published in Psychological Science, when one individual feels safe enough to be brazenly unethical, others who identify as part of that group are tempted to go down the same road. In other words, one bad apple can rot the whole barrel.
These findings call to mind toxic cultures like Stratton Oakmont, the brokerage that ran a microcap stock fraud through a pump-and-dump boiler room. Stratton Oakmont employees enjoyed a tight-knit, secure climate, including prostitution- and drug-fueled office parties when they weren’t getting together to merrily rip off their customers. They could be frank and take risks together, staying loyal to each other while keeping their malfeasance hidden from the outside world.
Read the whole story: Quartz