Friendliness favoured over skill in teammates

Those who are trustworthy are more likely to be chosen for group work, research reveals

People who are friendly and trustworthy are more likely to be picked for teams than those who are only known for being skillful, a study has found. Academics at New York-based Binghamton University School of Management studied 87 full-time, final-year MBA students, and randomly placed them into 20 teams. They were assigned a project to work on and, at the end of term, students were asked to form their own teams.

Researchers measured the students’ human capital (their ability to perform tasks well) and their social capital (their ability to work together).

Academics found that students with high levels of trustworthiness and competence were the most in demand. However, those with trustworthiness were more sought after than those with high skill competency. 

Cynthia Maupin, assistant professor of organisational behaviour and leadership, said the findings show people may sacrifice competency in order to have a cohesive team: “When people feel like they can trust you, even if you’re not necessarily the best worker, they’re going to be more likely to want to work with you.”