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The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team

I see long term intimate relationships as being in a team. Patrick Lencioni – the author of the book – The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team says teams tend to encounter the same issues repeatedly and they also apply to relationships I see.

Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust

Lencioni points out, trust is one of those words that gets used so often that it has lost some of its meaning. He says that he intends it to mean “the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group.” The natural tendency of most people is to hide their mistakes and weaknesses from their peers and bosses.

Teams with an absence of trust (a) hide weaknesses from one another, (b) don’t ask for help or provide constructive feedback, (c) don’t offer help outside their own areas of responsibility, (d) jump to conclusions about the intentions and skills of others quickly, (e) don’t recognize and tap into each other’s skills and experiences, (f) waste time and energy trying to look good, (g) hold grudges and (h) dread meetings and find reasons to avoid spending time together.

Teams that exhibit trust (a) admit weaknesses and mistakes, (b) ask for help, (c) accept questions and input about their roles, (d) give each other the benefit of the doubt, (e) offer feedback and assistance to others, (f) tap into each other’s skills and experiences, (g) focus time and energy on important issues, not politics, (h) offer and accept apologies without hesitation, and (i) look forward to meetings and other opportunities to work as a group.

Dysfunction #2: Fear of Conflict

Most people dislike conflict and avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the biggest drivers of dysfunction on teams. The conflict we should be aiming for is constructive.

Teams that fear conflict (a) have boring meetings, (b) create environments where internal politics and personal attacks occur, (c) ignore controversial topics that are critical to team success, (d) don’t tap into all the opinions and perspectives of team members, and (e) waste time and energy with posturing to one another.

Teams that engage in conflict (a) have great meetings, (b) pull out the ideas of all team members, (c) solve real problems quickly, (d) minimize politics, and (e) address critical topics on a regular basis.

Dysfunction #3: Lack of Commitment

On a team, commitment is a function of two things – clarity and buy-in. If there is clarity on decisions and buy-in on what those decisions require from the team, great things happen.

A team that fails to commit (a) creates ambiguity around direction and priorities, (b) over analyse and under-act, (c) creates lack of confidence and fear of failure, (d) revisits old discussions and decisions again and again, and (e) encourages second-guessing among team members.

A team that commits (a) creates clarity around direction and priorities, (b) aligns the entire team around common objectives, (c) develops an ability to learn from mistakes, (d) takes advantage of opportunities before competitors do, (e) moves forward without hesitation, and (f) changes direction without hesitation.

Dysfunction #4: Avoidance of Accountability

Lencioni suggests that the most effective and efficient means of maintaining high standards on a team is through peer pressure.

But most people avoid accountability like the plague. They don’t like others holding them accountable for things they said they would do, and they feel just as uncomfortable in holding others accountable for things that don’t get done.

A team that avoids accountability (a) creates resentment among team members who have high standards, (b) encourages mediocrity, (c) misses deadlines and key deliverables, and (d) relies on the leader as the sole source of accountability.

A team that holds each other accountable (a) ensures that poor performers feel pressure to improve, (b) identifies potential problems quickly, (c) establishes respect among team members who are held to the same high standards, and (d) avoids excessive bureaucracy around performance management and corrective action.

Dysfunction #5: Inattention to Results

Lencioni calls this the ultimate dysfunction of a team – the tendency of team members to care about something other than the collective goals of the team.

There are several reasons why people might be focussed on something other than results. For some people, just being a part of the team is enough to keep them satisfied. For others, focussing on their own career and status is more important than the results the team generates.

Whatever the reason, having a team that has this illness ensures that everything else will fall apart.

A team that is not focussed on results (a) fails to grow, (b) rarely defeats competitors, (c) loses high performing employees, (d) encourages team members to focus on their own careers and individual goals, and (e) is easily distracted.

A team that focusses on results (a) retains achievement-oriented employees, (b) minimises individualistic behaviour, (c) enjoys success and suffers failure acutely, (d) benefits from individuals who subjugate their own goals/interests for the good of the team, and (e) avoids distractions.

Any of these in your relationship?

Not sure how to implement what you have just read or need some clarification? Please call me on 0407 585 497 and we can have a no obligation chat on how to apply these in your relationship.

About David Lawson

Finding the Light is a locally owned and operated counselling and life coaching business based in Bundaberg. We seek to empower our clients to find their way forward to a better life by using the approaches of counselling or coaching. If this blog article has raised more questions please contact us by email or call us on 0407 585 497 to arrange a time for us to discuss the article. Mention this blog and we will give you a FREE 30 minute session to discuss.

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