Business Reading: The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

28 October 2020

I had a question from a client recently, in regards to the performance of their team. They felt like some team members were just treading water a bit and that they weren’t fully committed to doing their best.

When digging a bit deeper there were a number of issues in play and it reminded me of a great framework on team productivity by Patrick Lencioni – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Here Patrick explains that there is a hierarchy of factors, which can sabotage a team’s performance.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni

Absence of Trust

Where there is a lack of trust within a team, you will find that people will hide their mistakes for fear of being ridiculed, reprimanded or losing credit.

As well as this, people may not trust that they can rely on colleagues to help them out, leading to a lack of teamwork. People need to be comfortable being vulnerable. If they make a mistake, they should be safe in the knowledge that it will be dealt with in a supportive manner and that they can resolve it together and learn from it.


Fear of Conflict

Most people will avoid confrontation naturally but in a team where there is a fear of conflict, people may let matters simmer unnoticed for extended, unhealthy periods of time. This creates a false sense of harmony, where staff may tell you everything is fine but, in truth, they are afraid to raise any issues for fear of hurting someone’s feelings or being thought less of.

You might notice that when there is an issue such as this, certain behaviours manifest themselves in staff members. Unresolved issues can cause ill feeling and demotivation and when that is the case, you may see increased instances of lateness, taking extra sick days and a lack of communication in general.

You should ensure that there are structures present, such as one to one meetings, where they can express any concerns in a safe environment.


Lack of Commitment

If there are no structures in the team to nurture a feeling of commitment to the organisation and to colleagues, then things will not tick over as they should, performance will be suboptimal and there will be nobody willing to go the extra mile when required.

When people don’t care about what they are doing, team members catch on and it goes hand in hand with a lack of trust. Tasks don’t get completed as they should and therefore others don’t trust them to get the job done in the future.

Nurture commitment in team members by ensuring they are aligned to the goals of the business, personally and have a sense of ownership over their tasks.


Avoidance of Accountability

This can be the case when there is a general lack of responsibility being taken and team members don’t feel they should be the one to put things right when they go wrong. They will come up with all the excuses they can think of as to why things did or didn’t happen. What is certain is that it wasn’t their fault!

The question you should ask yourself is, who do they think is responsible and why?

Do they have clear enough individual goals to achieve and do they understand fully why they are working towards those goals?


Inattention to Results

You may have someone responsible for an area of the business but if that person doesn’t have the right mentality, they won’t have a full understanding of what it takes to succeed in that area.

For example, someone is in charge of Sales and Marketing, they are a great ideas person but they don’t have visibility of how many leads you have coming in, what the average spend is and what conversion rate they need to hit targets.

I would definitely recommend reading The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni to help you to understand the kinds of scenarios that could be harming your team’s performance.

Next week, I will be exploring some of the simple steps you can take to resolve these issues, so stay tuned!

In the mean time, let me know what you think and if you would like to discuss any issues with your team please.

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There is one comment:

  1. Parriera - 26th December 2021 at 9:16 pm

    magnificent submit, very informative.

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