Today, only 25% of people consider their team to be effective in terms of performance and affinity in group dynamics. In these cases, teamwork is a catalyst for tackling challenges rather than a means for boosting performance or improving quality of life. But why do some teams succeed where others fail? What are the secrets of these top teams? Science and A.I. can provide us with the answers.

The seeds of an extraordinary project!

Scientists are constantly producing new knowledge and new means to objectify a team’s potential and anticipate their collective effectiveness. At AssessFirst, we have been working on this very subject for the last few years. Our goal?

Cracking the code on what makes a high-performing team.

Our Science and Innovation (S&I) team has left nothing to chance: combining A.I., soft skills and psychometric tests in order to predict each team’s level of success. We’ll tell you more in just a moment! 👇


We were our own guinea pigs in an experience that surpassed our highest expectations!


At first, our S&I team managed to predict the exact rankings – with the utmost secrecy – of every team in a multi-sport competition during an internal seminar. They were based on the combination of psychological profiles for the members of each team and their natural affinity between each other. A few months later, they repeated this experiment by predicting the performance of different teams during a laser tag tournament.



Until then, these experiments were only performed internally, but in 2020 we decided to go even further! We conducted extensive research, in a professional context, on teams around the world: in France, Russia, Singapore, and Canada. Teams that had different goals, in different industries, of different sizes, with different levels of experience. For each of these teams, we analysed each member’s personality, their motivations, their way of thinking and learning, their productivity, their perceived quality of life in the group, the sustainability of the team and the manager’s impact on the team. These studies allowed us to identify precisely what explains a team’s success:

👉 The factors that make some teams succeed, while others fail
👉 The social and inter-personal dynamics that are conducive to development and performance

In the 2 years that followed, we analysed thousands more data collections on teams around the world, with the aim of finding THE formula. The one that will allow us to know that a team is effective… even before it is formed!

And we got there. 😏👇


What the science taught us.

Today, in most companies, we recruit on know-how, weighing what each person could bring in terms of technicality. But we often ignore the question of ‘will this person integrate well or not into their future team’. How will they merge into the dynamics of an already formed team? How will they complete it? What will be their levers, but also their brakes for how they collaborate with others? Moreover, the answers to all these questions are essential to anticipating communication and management strategies.

Unfortunately, too often companies focus just on individual process improvements, like team building or internal tools. But this is not enough to boost overall performance.

As the indisputable cornerstones of any business, teams are incredibly complex systems. As described by Richard Hackman, a former Harvard professor, teams consist of three main elements.

👉 Group processes:
That is to say the functioning of the team. Rousseau, Aubé and Savoie identified 7 behaviours:

1. Cooperation
2. Communication
3. Psychological support
4. Conflict management
5. Work organisation
6. Resource management
7. Support to innovate

👉 Results and outcomes
Measured by the productivity or satisfaction of the group, according to 4 factors:
1. Quality of life in the group
2. Output
3. Legitimacy of the team
4. Sustainability of the team

👉 Inputs! (This is super important)
That is to say, all the factors with which you build the team and which will determine everything else: from interactions to results! Here are some examples :
At an individual level – personalities.
At a group level – the group size.
At an environmental level – the characteristics of the task.

By focusing solely on process improvement, you are missing the most critical factors in successful teams.”

So, let’s take a look at that now! 👇


Here are the 3 main factors to predict a team’s ability to succeed:

1️⃣ Affinity :

At work, affinity is the natural ease with which two people can evolve and work together, depending on their personality, motivations and cognitive abilities. There is also a distinction between two types of attraction that factor into affinity:

👉 Socio-emotional attraction: This is determined by the fact that two people naturally want to spend time together (or not).

👉 Task-oriented attraction: This corresponds to the perceived ability of individuals to collaborate or help in achieving a specific goal.

How can you measure affinity for a team then?

This measurement must be carried out taking several sociometric variables into account:
👉 The strength of direct affinities between colleagues
👉 If a person centralises all strong affinities
👉 The strength of indirect affinities or transitivities (the link between two people that passes through an intermediary person)
👉Team members who are isolated or disconnected from the group – the ‘free electrons’
👉 The core of the team
👉 The size of the team

If you want to know more about Affinity, we recommend reading this thorough article on the subject: Should we recruit people we get along well with? (… and how to spot them)


2️⃣ Team energy:

Energy is how the members of a team contribute to the team as a whole. However, the energy is not based on the professional role that one plays but rather on the psychological role. Science commonly distinguishes two major families of psychological roles:

👉 Relationship-oriented psychological roles: These refer to people who seek to create or maintain relationships within the team.

👉 Task-oriented psychological roles: These refer to people who seek to move projects forward.

To effectively manage your team, it is essential to know what role an employee can play and whether these roles are well balanced. If the roles of members are not complementary, if certain roles are over (or under) represented, or if certain roles are not relevant to the objective, then your team will likely struggle to succeed, regardless of the initiatives you take regarding team building or management.

And that is not what we want! 😃


3️⃣ The manager fit:

For there to be good communication between the manager and employees, we need to examine and take into account two factors:

👉 The natural management style of the manager
👉 The management style expected by the employee, the ones to which they will be most receptive

All managers must keep in mind that their main role is to support, as best they can, employees in their evolution and professional development. To do this, it is important to really know each person’s soft skills: what is the best way to communicate with them, how to lead them to their own fulfilment.

We then established 6 management styles to help managers identify the levers on which they need to rely, in order to be THE leader for everyone:

💪 Results-focused management: Winner, Directive and Visionary

🤝 Personnel-centred management: Empathic, Coach and Participative

To remain competitive for the future, you need to observe, quantify and measure the real dynamics of your teams… and be able to anticipate changes. To do that, you should rely on sociometric data: data that informs you about the ability of several people to flourish and perform together. Artificial Intelligence can be used to analyse in record time and among several thousand employees or candidates, who can work with whom, who must work with whom, and how, as a manager, you can optimise collaboration between all.

Does that sound crazy to you? Because it’s already happening… today.


A handball club boosts performance thanks to science!

We had the chance to build a partnership with the USAM of Nîmes Gard – a professional handball club playing in the European Cup. We realised that team challenges in the sports environment were strikingly similar to those in the business world. So we agreed to take up the challenge and help this club improve their team.

Our support took place across 4 stages:

👉 Help them understand the players
👉 How to coach them more effectively
👉 Identify affinity networks in the team
👉 Identify players to put on the pitch in certain situations


We therefore had both the staff and professional players take our three questionnaires (personality, motivations and aptitudes) to highlight their soft skills, potential and way of acting. We were thus able to isolate what defines their culture, mapping out their DNA with our HR Technology and Artificial Intelligence. We were able to distinguish a global culture centred on 3 pillars:
Action, Affinity and Enthusiasm.

The goal was to better understand the team dynamics and to make future integrations easier by establishing references.

But the big challenge in this collaboration was in helping the coaches and staff to communicate more effectively with the players, to improve their management. So, we asked ourselves these questions: How can we engage them more easily? How can we communicate with them so that the messages are received? Which staff member is best suited to mobilise each individual player?

Do you remember the 6 management styles seen above? Based on this we were able to determine the head coach’s management style: Participative and Coach.



We then projected the match between the players natural tendencies and the coach’s style to determine with whom the coach would be able to communicate naturally and with those with whom he would need time to adapt.



But beware! The goal isn’t only to have high manager fit scores (players who are natural in harmony with the coach’s management)! The objective is to help the coach be able to adapt his management according to the players!

💡 If a player has a low score matching his management style, the coach will have to adapt even more so to mobilise this player.


What are the benefits? What was put in place?

The club has been able to put in place several areas of development to improve their communication and performance across three levels:

👉 At the management level:

Several seminars have been organised in order to better understand the identity of the staff, i.e. their strengths and areas for improvement.

👉 At the player level:
A lot of changes have been organised! They have set up a ‘buddy system’ in the team to better integrate new players. They have put in place a process to see the suitability of potential candidates: each new player must take the questionnaires.
Each player is assigned a STAFF point of contact (like the buddy system) to accompany them! Some people have even changed managers to promote more effective communication!

👉 At the training centre level:
They have launched a mentoring program to help youngsters develop their skills, thanks to the results of our research on the skills of international players.

Moving into the future, the model will be updated every year according to arrivals and departures, in order to better prepare for the following season.

A last word from the coach:
If I had to start from scratch in another club, I couldn’t do it without all this data I rely on to coach now!



A company’s success no longer depends solely on the ability of its employees to succeed in a job. We now need to accurately predict the potential of every team to get along and work together, which is only possible with Artificial Intelligence and science. The power of predictive algorithms is the only force capable of processing the massive amount of data needed, related to the personalities and motivations of the members. Measuring the potential of a team is not a task that can be solved simply with a manager’s intuition or experience!


If you’d like to dig deeper into this subject, we recommend reading this article:
Should we recruit people we get along well with? (… and how to spot them)