How Is Your Team Functioning?

I enjoyed and learned a lot from Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. If you are a leader, a manager, a coach, or at any time have people who look to you for advice, coaching, or leadership I recommend you give it a read.

The Five Dysfunctions that Lencioni identifies are: 1) Absence of Trust 2) Fear of Conflict 3)Lack of Commitment 4) Avoidance of Accountability 5)Inattention to Results.

Absence of Trust: If the team members are open and honest with each other trust will exist. Team members need to be able to share what they might have done wrong, what their concerns are, and any weaknesses they might have. There is a need for vulnerability among the team members.

Fear of Conflict: Many people want to avoid conflict. Conflict can be ok as long as it is respectful and not about a person but about a process or a thing. However, to have open discussions the team members need to trust each other. Passionate debate that is open and respectful can be a great advantage for any team.

Lack of Commitment: How committed would you be to put into action something you thought wasn’t right, but hadn’t had an opportunity to express your thoughts and ideas? If team members haven’t had a chance to freely discuss their concerns or resistance to ideas and to offer other suggestions, they are not likely to have the necessary buy-in and won’t be in a hurry to accept what someone else thinks is right when they disagree.

Avoidance of Accountability: If that buy-in is not present there isn’t commitment, and without commitment, there is no reason to call attention to any errors along the way. If there is no commitment a person won’t be eager to share their own errors let alone someone else’s. Errors need to be out in the open to allow everyone the opportunity to ensure they can be overcome. There might be a need to change a process so the same error is not repeated.

Inattention to Details: Who cares about details if you aren’t in favour of what is going on anyway? Individual needs are put ahead of those identified by the team as their priorities and goals. How many organizations actually do this? The well-being of the employees is essential to having a successful organization. The details of any project will only be attended to by workers who feel valued and cared for.

These Five Dysfunctions build on each other and the first one and all the others start with Trust. How can Trust be built? Before even thinking about building trust everyone on the team will want to examine their personality type and the personality types of the other team members. There are a variety of personality evaluations available for this purpose. I know the DiSC method and am a certified partner, so will refer to it from time to time. Once personality types are identified, and all types are important, then the work of finding out how to get along begins.

Having a functional team takes work from everyone. It is a journey to create the functional team, and the journey will need to be repeated with new team members, and at times with a few new roads.

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