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Overcoming the 5 Dysfunctions Of A Team


Have you ever seen a team fall apart because of infighting, micro-aggressions or a failure of accountability? Not only is it frustrating, it's also incredibly disheartening when you know there’s potential within the team.

This is why it helps to know about "Lencioni's Five Dysfunctions of a Team." In this blog, we'll review these five dysfunctions, and we'll look at what you can do to remedy them.

About the Five Dysfunctions

Patrick Lencioni, president of management consulting firm, The Table Group, wrote about the Five Dysfunctions of a Team in his 2002 book of the same name. He developed these principles after observing and coaching thousands of CEOs and Fortune 500 management teams.

According to Lencioni, you cannot achieve anything without trust.

The absence of trust then co-creates 4 other dysfunctions. Each dysfunction has a direct impact on a team’s performance and hampers overall productivity. The good news is that you, as a manager, with leadership and management skills can overcome all these dysfunctions.

The 5 dysfunctions of teams are:

1. Absence of trust The root cause of lack of trust lies with team members being unable to be vulnerable and open with one another. This is a huge waste of time and energy, as team members invest in defensive behavior instead, and are reluctant to ask for help from – or assist – each other.

2. Fear of conflict Teams that are lacking trust are incapable of having an unfiltered, passionate debate about things that matter, causing team members to avoid conflict, replacing it with an artificial harmony.

3. Lack of commitment Without conflict, it is not easy for team members to commit and buy-in to decisions, resulting in an environment where ambiguity prevails.

4. Avoidance of accountability When teams don’t commit, you can’t have accountability: “people aren’t going to hold each other accountable if they haven’t clearly bought into the plan”.

5. Inattention to results A team can only become results-oriented when all team members place the team’s results first. When individuals aren’t held accountable, team members naturally tend to look out for their own interests, rather than the interests of the team.

If your leadership team is struggling, it can often be traced back to these behaviors.

How this Works in Practice

What we find when we first work with teams is that everybody always says, “we’re good at collaborating,” but many groups are bouncing up and down between being good at working as a team, and avoiding conflict (ie preserving the status quo, which is rooted in a lack of trust) all the time.

If you can work on this stuff, your performance as a team will go to a whole other level.

There’s a big leap you can make: if you can get better at developing skills to counter the dysfunctions, and change the patterns and the problems, you will build confidence and capability, become much more effective, better at collaborating, and your organization will benefit.

It’s a slow process, but it’s worth the effort and can yield big results.

These questions help us realize the extent of our thinking on team problems:

  • Do we have “vulnerability-based” trust with each other?

  • Does our team know the difference between “good” and “bad” conflict?

  • Does everyone on our team have buy-in and clarity (not consensus) surrounding issues?

  • Do all of our teammates hold each other accountable for their actions, behaviors, and goals?

  • Do our team members lack focus on our collective results?

You and your team will make significant headway toward busting all of the Five Dysfunctions as you:

  • Learn to trust each other

  • Master the art of disagreement

  • Fully commit to an agreed-upon plan of action

  • Hold yourself and others accountable for tasks, agreed-upon good conflict behaviors, and achieving the team’s goals.

  • Focus on the collective results of the team

If you or & your company is interested in obtaining services with an authorized Everything Wiley DiSC partner to facilitate trainings on 5 Dysfunctions of Team & DiSC Assessments, you can contact us at 1833-CLICKHR or info@clickonhr.com. ClickOnHR is an authorized Wiley Partner.

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