Book Insights Series |The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

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Why does a team become dysfunctional?
Team members care more about their results than the team’s results.

Why do team members lose sight of the team’s results?
Team members don’t hold one another accountable to the team’s results.

Why aren’t team members willing to hold one another accountable?
Team members aren’t committed to the team plan, so they don’t care if a teammate doesn’t do his/her part.

Why aren’t team members committed to the plan?
Team members aren’t involved in the development the team plan because they are afraid of challenging the leader’s decisions and experiencing interpersonal conflict.

Why are team members afraid of conflict?
Team members don’t trust that the leader (or anyone on the team) will accept an opposing point of view without taking it personally and starting an ugly, political battle. The five dysfunctions of a team: inattention to team results, lack of accountability, lack of commitment, fear of conflict, and absence of trust.

How you can prevent these five dysfunctions from destroying your team’s performance:
Establish Vulnerability‐Based Trust
Trust building exercise: Take turns openly acknowledging a weakness that could hurt the team and a strength that will help the team succeed. Go first, and show your team it’s ok to be vulnerable. You might say, “My technical skills aren’t strong, but I believe that my ability to find new customers and sell products will help this team succeed.” when you and your teammates are transparent about your faults, you take down the veil of perfection and allow open and honest feedback to find its way into team discussions.

Encourage Healthy Conflict
Encourage healthy conflict in meetings by creating a ‘Team Engagement Charter’ that promotes candid, passionate debate. Then have your teammates sign it and bring it to every meeting. Sample ‘Team Engagement Charter’: “We will address conflict‐laden issues and sort out disagreements with passionate debate. When discussing team issues, we will not withhold commentary …”

Earn Commitment
Get team members to buy‐in to your decisions by allowing them to participate and feel heard during team planning sessions.

“I’ve come to understand that most people don’t really need to have their ideas adopted (a.k.a. “get their way”) in order to buy in to a decision. They just want to have their ideas heard, understood, considered, and explained within the context of the ultimate decision.” – Patrick Lencioni

Learn to disagree and commit by saying, “I’m not saying you’re wrong, but since we don’t have all the information, are you willing to gamble with me on this? Can we disagree and commit so we can move fast and get feedback?”

Foster Peer‐to‐Peer Accountability
Show your teammates it’s ok to hold every team member (even those of higher status) accountable, by allowing every team member to host weekly status meetings. During a weekly status meeting, the host goes around the room and asks every team member, “Did you do what you said you were going to do last week? And if not, why not?” When everyone sees a junior team member question a senior team member, a new standard of team accountability is set.

Focus on Team Results
Keep the team focused on team results (instead of individual results) by connecting personal rewards to team results. For example, team members only receive an extra day off at the end of the month if the team hits its monthly target. Team rewards remind team members that if the team doesn’t win, no one wins.

“On strong teams, no one is happy until everyone is succeeding because that’s the only way to achieve the effective results of the group.” – Patrick Lencioni

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