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Is your team dysfunctional?

Is your team dysfunctional?

Think of the best team you’ve ever been on?  What were some of the qualities the team exhibited?  Trust?  Communication?  Supportive?  Leadership?  Accountability?  Fun?  Vision?  Clear goals and objectives?  Development opportunities?

Now think of the worst team you’ve ever been on?  What were some of the qualities of that team?

When it comes to working in teams, it’s supposed to make our lives easier.  We’re supposed to be able to accomplish more together.  Yet how many times have we experienced that teams are a cluster of different personalities, work ethics and ideas that end up in more conflict than collaboration.  More “work” than “team”.

So what is the secret to team harmony and productivity?

In the book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, Patrick Lencioni discusses five different areas of dysfunction that hinders teams.  They are:

  1. Absence of Trust
  2. Fear of Conflict
  3. Lack of Commitment
  4. Avoidance of Accountability
  5. Inattention to Results

The way this model works is that each dysfunction leads and contributes to the next.

Here are the first three:

1) Absence of Trust – Teams won’t have trust if their members aren’t willing to be vulnerable with each other.  Vulnerable about what?  Their limitations, mistakes and challenges.  Too many times, we try to seem perfect and don’t want to admit our faults.  This may be a protective move on our part – after all we were raised to believe that work is a competitive, “dog eat dog” world.

However, in a team (just like in a one-on-one relationship) vulnerability is the beginning of bonding.  People who let their guard down and share some of their own insecurities are usually embraced, not rejected by others.  So to build trust with others, sometimes we need to take the first step and admit we’re not perfect.  If we share a little of our own foibles, we often find this allows others to do the same.

If team members don’t have trust, this leads to a…

2) Fear of Conflict – If people don’t feel safe, they aren’t going to speak up.  Period.  So instead of getting everything out on the table, you have team members who hold back their ideas, concerns, and objections.  People may look like they are in agreement (we’ve all seen the neutral head nod and mistaken it for “I’m with you”) but not willing to speak up and disagree.

When that happens, you get…

3) Lack of Commitment – Most of us have sat in those meetings where there are some who aren’t on board with the rest of us.  They aren’t speaking up, they may even be nodding their heads, but you know they haven’t bought into the decisions of the team.  Without speaking up and sharing their concerns, they aren’t willing or able to fully commit to the next steps with the team.

Without their commitment, you have an…

In the next article, we will look at the last two of the Five Dysfunctions.