Working on a Dream




Monday, August 15, 2011

How Dysfunctional is your Team?

The first step toward reducing politics and confusion within your team is to understand that there are 5 dysfunctions to contend with.  Below, I will summarize one of the most successful and helpful leadership books written recently; Patrick Lencioni's "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team."

Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust:
This occurs when team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with one another and are unwilling to admit their mistakes, weaknesses or needs for help. Without a certain comfort level among team members, a foundation of trust is impossible. Lencioni says that the leader of the organization must go first when it comes to building trust.  In this sense, the leader resembles a domino; and by the leader showing vulnerability, everyone else will follow suit.

Dysfunction #2: Fear of Conflict:
Teams that are lacking on trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate about key issues, causing situations where team conflict can easily turn into veiled discussions and back channel comments. In a work setting where team members do not openly air their opinions, inferior decisions and what I like to call, "active passivity" ensues.   

Dysfunction #3: Lack of Commitment:
Without conflict, it is difficult for team members to commit to decisions, this creates an environment where ambiguity prevails. Lack of direction and commitment can make employees -particularly star employees- disgruntled and give them enough incentive to start looking elsewhere for work.  This leaves your company waning as your top talent has left the building. 

Dysfunction #4: Avoidance of Accountability
When teams don't commit to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven individuals hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that may seem counterproductive to the overall good of the team. By this point, many just give up, the fire that roared inside has turned into a tiny spark and the company how has a situation where everybody is performing their jobs without any real direction. 

Dysfunction #5: Inattention to Results:
Team members naturally tend to put their own needs (ego, career development, recognition, etc.) ahead of the collective goals of the team when individuals aren't held accountable. If a team has lost sight of the need for achievement, the business ultimately suffers.  This is the final nail in your coffin.  If you find yourself in this category, I would suggest bringing in an outside consultant as your organization has proven it cannot have the type of open and honest conversations it needs to thrive.  Generally speaking, major revamping will take place in order to restore health to the business. 

If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Ecclesiastes 4:10


Sherrie Koretke said...

This sounds like a great book. Thanks for outlining and sharing it with us, Anthony. I personally think these dysfunctions could be taught to teachers and coaches of children as well as business people.

Anthony K said...

Sherrie, No problem... I agree that this applies to anyone working with others! I wish more people would take advantage of resources like this book.