Saturday Night Live team meeting with Lorne Michaels

This  article is written as a transcript from a speech by Charles Duhigg Pulitzer Prize winning writer behind the Bestsellers “Smarter, Faster, Better” and “The Power of Habit.”

Psychological safety is what makes us feel heard, when working within a team. Get to know why two top performing workplaces – Google and the tv show Saturday Night Live – get their teams to perform exceptionally.



About five years ago Google started an interesting experiment: they wanted to figure out how to build the perfect team. So, they collected huge amounts of data about all the teams within Google, and their initial hypothesis was you can make teams better by putting the right people together. They figured: who you put together, is the way to build the perfect team.

Put together introverts and some extroverts. Or maybe you have people who are friends away from the conference room. Maybe you need strong leaders and followers in the same team.

That’s the thing you want to control, so they collected all of their data, they spent millions of dollars and years looking into this. But- they couldn’t find any correlation between who was on a team, and whether that team was effective or not.



So, they didn’t start looking at this question in a completely different way. No, they started focusing instead of who is on the team? They started looking at how the team interacts. We’ve all felt this before, that may be away from a team setting we’re really outgoing, but then when we sit down, we kind of are more sedate because that’s how the team behaves. Or maybe there’s a group norm that it’s OK for people to interrupt each other, or maybe it’s the alternative that the group norm is that everyone takes turns talking, or you stay on the agenda, or you start the meeting by gossiping. Groups develop these unwritten rules, and that’s how they function, and it turns out those group norms, THAT was the thing that determined whether a team was successful or not.

In particular, there were two norms that seemed to have a huge influence on whether a team could work together and could really become productive: the first was what’s known as the quality and conversational turn-taking. What this basically means is: does everyone at the table get a chance to speak up? We’ve all been in team meetings where half the table is quiet. Maybe some expert is in the room, and when a question comes up they just talk for 10 or 15 minutes, and they tell everyone what they ought to do. That might be really efficient, but that’s terrible for a team.

The best teams it turns out are the ones where everyone at the table regardless of whether they know what they’re talking about or not, feels like they have an opportunity to make their voice heard, even if maybe they’re not an expert on a topic. Also if someone takes the conversation off the agenda, we say hey I understand that this is important to you, so we go with it for a little while.  

If you can create this conversational turn, taking equality of voices, if you can convince people to really listen to each other by being sensitive to the nonverbal cues we’re giving off, then you create psychological safety, and psychological safety is the single greatest determinant in whether a team comes together or whether it falls apart.



One of my favorite examples of psychological safety and a team really coming together is the early days of Saturday Night Live. So when you think about it Saturday Night Live never should have worked right? You have a bunch of comedians who are kind of misanthropes, to begin with, and they’re all kind of egomaniacs and yet for some reason when Lorne Michaels put them in a room together, everyone was willing to kind of get along. They were willing to put aside their ego and create this amazing show together, not only an amazing show but a show that was put together under these incredible time pressures. They have a week to put together a live show, and when I talked to the early writers and performers on Saturday Night Live, I asked them why this happened. All of them said the same thing: because of Lorne Michaels.



So Lorne Michaels has this very unique way of running meetings. He sits down and the meeting starts, and what he’ll do is he’ll make everyone go around the table and say something and if someone hasn’t spoken up in a little while, Lorne Michaels will actually stop the meeting and he’ll say, Susie, I notice that you haven’t chimed in like what are you thinking about right now?

If somebody looks upset, if an actor looks like he’s having a bad day or a writer sort of seems like they’re pissed off, Lorne Michaels will again stop the meeting, and he’ll actually take that person out of the room, and he’ll say Look: it looks like something is going on that’s bugging you? Let’s talk about it. What what’s happening in your life now?

What’s crazy about this is that this actually makes meetings kind of go on forever, and Lorne Michaels is known for being productive, right? He’s known for being this person who creates these amazing shows and is doing like 12 things at any given time, but the way he runs meetings is that he makes sure everyone in the room has something to say, and if you look like you’re thinking something and not verbalizing it, he makes you verbalize it or he takes you aside and he says What’s going on with you? Why are you upset?  Or: Are you happy?



Well, what Lorne Michaels does create is psychological safety. He’s like a master of creating psychological safety, and as a result, he’s able to take all these huge outsized egos and all these actors and writers who are comedians, and so almost by their very nature they hate other people, and he’s able to bring them all together into this cauldron of pressure: of creating a live television show in a week, and it all works out because he creates an environment that feels safe. Where everyone feels like they can speak up, and they feel like everyone else is genuinely listening to them, because they’re sensitive to all the cues of themself.

Charles Duhigg explains the psychological safety theme in this video:



We set goals in corporation with you

We are ambitious on your behalf

We listen and seek to understand your perspective

We are with you all the way in your challenges and possibilities

We are honest and kind, energetic and resultdriven


Feel free to call or e-mail our CEO, Vibeke Hartkorn, if you wish to know more about what we can do for you personally or the company you represent. We take non-binding meetings to get to know you.


woman smiling in the office

Ønsker du mere jobglæde i dit team? Sæt stem­nin­gen med disse 6 råd

God ledelse, en god stemning og en god relation mellem leder og medarbejder er vejen til mere jobglæde, siger kommunikations- og ledelsesrådgiver Vibeke Hartkorn. Her giver hun 6 gode råd til at skabe mere jobglæde i dit team.


Jobindex har tidligere bragt fokus på, at relationen mellem lederen og medarbejderen er en af de mest afgørende faktorer for medarbejderens jobglæde. Det perspektiv understøtter og udbygger Vibeke Hartkorn, selvstændig kommunikationsrådgiver, bestyrelsesmedlem og forfatter til bøgerne PowerQvinder, Powermænd samt En visuel guide til kommunikation på alle ledertrin – få andre til at følge dig, som også arbejder som coach og rådgiver med at fremme karriereudvikling, træne personlig gennemslagskraft og stakeholder-kommunikation. For Vibeke er der en direkte sammenhæng mellem god ledelse og god stemning som en forudsætning for jobglæde, og hun er meget tydelig, når det kommer til, hvem der bærer opgaven:


”Det er altid enhver leders opgave at sikre rammerne for medarbejdernes jobglæde,” siger Vibeke.


Derfor skal en leder, der ønsker mere jobglæde i sin afdeling, ifølge Vibeke, stille sig selv spørgsmålene:


  • Hvad gør jeg som leder for at skabe tryghed nok til, at folk oplever frihed til at udfolde deres potentiale?
  • Er jeg tydelig nok med at kommunikere, hvornår den enkelte er en succes og har betydning for os som virksomhed?

Øverste ledelse sætter stemningen

Den stemning, den øverste ledelse sætter for arbejdspladsen, er altafgørende, da den stemning med stor sandsynlighed ubevidst kopieres af alle ledere ned gennem systemet. Som leder skal du derfor gå forrest og sætte energiniveauet.


”Det er din opgave som leder at sætte tonen og skabe rammerne for, at dine medarbejdere oplever jobglæde. Først og fremmest ved at acceptere det og agere bevidst i dit lederskab efter det. Jo mere du holder, hvad du lover, jo større er sandsynligheden for, at dine medarbejdere oplever tryghed og tillid, som er en forudsætning for, at jobglæde kan opstå,” siger Vibeke.


Ledere udsender nonverbale signaler hele tiden, og medarbejderne mærker den energi, du bringer ind i et rum. Er du introvert, optaget af dine egne tanker og svære beslutninger, og orker du ikke at engagere dig i samtaler, mens du passerer folk? Så tænker medarbejdere sandsynligvis, at der er noget galt. De bliver utrygge og bekymrede, og du kan komme til at sende et signal om, at medarbejderne ikke har betydning.


”Da jeg skrev min bog om lederkommunikation, interviewede jeg en leder i Mærsk-koncernen, der sagde til mig, at CEO burde stå for Chief Energy Officer! For du er den, der sætter energien for alle andre – uanset om du ønsker det eller ej. Du er den, alle kigger mod, og den, alle måler virksomhedens overlevelsesbarometer på,” siger Vibeke.


Meningsløshed ødelægger jobglæden

En af forudsætningerne for jobglæde er, at medarbejderen føler sig tryg, tilfreds og tilknyttet fællesskabet. Mange medarbejdere oplever mismod og manglende jobglæde, fordi de ikke synes, de kan få lov at udleve de værdier, de tror på, eller hvis de ikke føler sig værdsat.


”Hvis vi eksempelvis skal behandle kunder eller kolleger på en måde, der strider imod det, vi står for som privatpersoner, oplever vi meningsløshed, og så falder vores loyalitet, jobglæde, produktivitet, kreativitet og så videre,” siger hun.



Når fyringsrunder annonceres, finder de bedste medarbejdere sig hurtigt et andet job, fordi ingen har husket at sige ’Vi fyrer nogle af dine kollegaer, men det bliver ikke dig, for vi vil så gerne, at du bliver her, for vi har brug for netop dig.’


Jobglæde er alles ansvar!

Selv om Vibeke er tydelig med, at det er lederens opgave at sikre medarbejdernes jobglæde ved at gå forrest, mener hun sideløbende, at det påligger alle i en virksomhed at samarbejde omkring det at øge jobglæden. Hun har derfor en række råd til medarbejdere om at arbejde med deres personlige udvikling ved fx at tage ansvar for egen trivsel på arbejde og øge deres personlige robusthed, som du kan se her.


Til dig som leder har Vibeke 6 råd, du som leder kan arbejde videre med i dit team.

Vibekes 6 gode råd til at skabe jobglæde

  1. Gør det sjovt at løse opgaver sammen. Vær opmærksom på tidsrøvere og dårlige vaner.
  2. Find ud af, hvordan I får positiv energi ind i arbejdsdagen gennem fejring, overraskelser, fysiske aktiviteter og velværeinitiativer. Tag ansvar for at få energien op i løbet af en dag.
  3. Vær interesseret i hinandens liv uden for arbejdspladsen, og støt hinanden med idéer til et velfungerende privatliv. Arbejde og privatliv er for mange lige vigtige og flyder ind i hinanden.
  4. Vær skarp på forventningsafstemning, og sæt dig ind i andres perspektiv.
  5. Tag dem i opløbet og løs konflikter med det samme, og slå hårdt ned på dårlig adfærd. Bland dig, når du oplever, andre ikke er ordentlige.
  6. Gå forrest med at vise gode eksempler på godt kollegaskab, bring andre med ind i de spændende opgaver, og anerkend i fuld åbenhed hinanden, når I lykkes.

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