Tips to Overcome the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

dysfunctional-teamAccording to Patrick Lencioni, author of “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team”, team dynamics play a critical role in the success of every organization.   If you as a leader or department manager could imagine a world where all of your people are moving in the same direction, communicating flawlessly and executing with exact precision, what your world would look like.  You could dominate an industry, revolutionize a market or demolish your competition.  You could bring efficiencies or cost savings to your organization’s bottom line or increase revenue or earnings per share.

To begin improving your team’s performance, you must first understand where you and your team are dysfunctional and work on changing behavior and culture that will drive your team’s performance.

Dysfunction # 1:  Absence of Trust
This occurs when team members are unwilling to admit their mistakes and allow themselves to be vulnerable with one another.  To be successful, a leader must create a foundation for trust and be vulnerable him or herself to the team.  Know that you probably have people who are smarter than you on the team and be confident to admit when you are wrong.  Others will soon follow suit.

Dysfunction #2:  Fear of Conflict
When teams are lacking in trust, they are unable to engage in conflict or a passionate exchange of ideas and debates over issues and challenges.  Conflict in teams is critical to gain an exchange of ideas to move the team’s objectives forward.  Create an environment where the team can openly air their opinions without being attacked.

Dysfunction #3:  Lack of Commitment
Without conflict, it is difficult for a team to commit to decisions.  This will create a loose environment without solid direction and focus and all too often, employees will become disgruntled and unhappy.   A leader’s job is to be the tie breaker.  By allowing each team member to engage in conflict, or an exchange of ideas, the leader is the one who evaluates the options, recognizing the individual for their contribution and makes the decision.  By doing this, you will get buy in even if they don’t agree with your decision.

Dysfunction # 4:  Avoidance of Accountability
When the team doesn’t commit to a clear plan of action, you will find that the individuals of the team will hesitate to call the other members out on their behaviors.  Simply because without complete commitment, doing so may seem counterproductive to the health of the overall team.   As a leader your job is to make a decision based upon the input your team members’ have provided and to leave your meetings with buy in from each individual.  You now have created an understanding and a safe place for individuals to commit to the idea and commit to the deliverables assigned.  A strong functional team will hold its members accountable to the intended results so the leader doesn’t have too.

Dysfunction #5:  Inattention to Results
It is human nature for individuals to put their own needs (ego, development, recognition, etc) ahead of the collective goals of the team.  This usually happens when individuals aren’t held accountable from the other team members.  As leaders, we need to ensure that we are clear on not only the results we expect from the team, but the individuals working within the team.  The team has to function as a unit and held to a joint standard for achieving results, versus recognition to individuals within the team only.

So, as leaders ask yourself “is my team functional?”.  Cohesive teams is a sign of a good leader and remains one of the most competitive advantage available to any organization.   Function teams avoid wasting time talking about wrong issues and revisiting same topics over and over again, but rather focus on making high quality decisions with healthy conflict and commitment.  They accomplish more in less time and are often less distracted and frustrated.

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