5 Dysfunctions of a Team

5 Dysfunctions of a Team 

Lencioni in his book writes that there are five basic dysfunctions that teams commonly struggle with, which causes confusion, misunderstanding, negative morale and thereby impacting the entire organization. He talks about each dysfunction, explains each of them and how to overcome those in order to become a more united, highly functioning team. Let us look at the 5 Dysfunctions that he has written about. 

Absence of trust

Teamwork starts with trust and the way to build trust is to come from a place of vulnerability and showing vulnerability, admitting your mistakes or weaknesses, is the way to build trust. This is because trust, according to Lencioni, is a psychological state where you can show and accept vulnerability based on the positive expectation of the behaviour of another. It’s the knowledge that others will accept you for who you are and the variety you bring and you don’t have to put up defense mechanisms because you can speak truth without the fear of being cut down.

As a people leader, you need to lead by example. It might be hard but it will encourage others to follow your footsteps and help build trust within your team. 

Fear of conflict

Lack of trust makes people fearful of voicing their opinion, which may lead to a conflict.. Productivity gets affected when people agree or avoid committing because to do so might create conflict. We sometimes forget that healthy conflict is constructive and how you deal with conflict, builds strength within the team.

As a leader you must take this as opportunity to encourage and embrace diversity of thought, values and ways of operating. One strategy is to demand that everyone weighs into a decision and shares their opinion and as a leader, we strongly suggest you encourage this. As a leader, always present your opinion last, because when leaders go first, team members often just follow suit rather than say what they really think. Everyone has something to contribute and your job as a leader is to expect it, look for it, go for it and dig deep. 

Lack of commitment

This is when people agree on the surface but don’t really commit to a decision. They don’t feel safe to have their say and want to preserve harmony. It shows up through lack of clarity and buy-in which stops the team making decisions that stick. Strong discussion and solid, clear decision-making processes will help the team support commitment.

By now, it has become clear how each of these dysfunctions builds on the previous one. If there’s lack of trust, team members are more likely to fear the conflict that voicing their opinions might bring. They’re much more likely to buy into a decision when they’ve had their say, but if there’s no debate; their opinions aren’t included in the decision-making process. When everyone is heard and views are respected, transparent decisions are more easily reached. It’s about clarity and as a leader you must seek it, create it and communicate it.

Avoiding accountability

In most of the high performing teams individuals hold one another to account. When people feel uncomfortable having the difficult conversation or holding somebody to account, the team won’t function well. Again, it starts with you as a people leader. Your team must see you leading the charge, catching that red flag early, not letting things go.

While reading this blog, ask yourself what you’re avoiding because it’s uncomfortable. What’s that difficult conversation you’re not having? People want to do their best and difficult conversations generally go better than we expect. Always remember, we need to confront difficult issues, with the knowledge that when built on a foundation of trust, commitment and clarity, holding each other accountable will help everyone and the overall good of the team.

Inattention to results

Basic human nature makes us put their own needs first but when you’re too busy pursuing your own objectives, the team doesn’t get what it needs to succeed. As the people leader, you need to be clear about collective goals and the importance of results. Ensure you talk about them, measure them, acknowledge and reward members for their good work. When there is trust, discussion and accountability, the team will be strong, motivated and committed to achieving group objectives.

Lessons Learnt

If you recognize these patterns within your team, it might come as a relief to know they’re universal and can be overcome. Remember, your team members are connected and the key is to start by building a strong foundation of trust. After that, encourage healthy conflict, maintain accountability and set clear objectives communicating with clarity all the way. Following these might not be easy, but it’s definitely worthwhile.

Happy Learning!!!