5 Dysfunctions of a Team

I found this old worksheet from a previous team exercise that I went through… I can’t tell you how often I’ve had to review this framework…

… why? Because these are easier said than actually done and identifying a dysfunction is just the first (and easiest) step to fixing it. Thus begins the long and difficult and important process of creating an environment built upon trust and going form there.

(Oh, and of course, much-respect for Patrick Lencioni and all of his work in The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team.)

It all starts with TRUST.

And it’s a constant, never-ending battle. You might be “waging war” in one area of the organization while another area might be in really good shape but is slowly deteriorating because you’re drafting on the goodwill that you’ve created historically and it’s only a matter of time for it to begin falling a part.

Basically, you need to be working on building this in all parts of your organization (and life…?!?) all the time and do not take for granted any part that is actually working well.

I’ve gone ahead and typed out the other side of the worksheet:

Here you go:

As difficult as teamwork can be to achieve, it is not complicated. And so, if I can’t describe it in a page or two, then I’ve probably made it too complex. Here goes.

The true measure of a team is that it accomplishes the results that it sets out to achieve. To do that on a consistent, ongoing basis, a team must overcome the five dysfunctions listed here by embodying the behaviors described for each one.

  1. Absence of Trust: Members of great teams trust one another on a fundamental, emotional level, and they are comfortable being vulnerable with each other about their weaknesses, mistakes, fears, and behaviors. They get to a point where they can be completely open with one another, without filters. This is essential because…
  2. Fear of Conflict: … teams that trust one another are not afraid to engage in passionate dialogue around issues and decisions that are key to the organization’s success. They do not hesitate to disagree with, challenge, and question one another, all in the spirit of finding the best answers, discovering the truth, and making great decisions. This is important because…
  3. Lack of Commitment: … teams that engage in unfiltered conflict are able to achieve genuine buy-in around important decisions, even when various members of the team initially disagree. That’s because they ensure that all opinions and ideas are put on the table and considered, giving confidence to team members that no stone has been left unturned. This is critical because…
  4. Avoidance of Accountability: … teams that commit to decisions and standards of performance do not hesitate to hold one another accountable for adhering to those decision and standards. What is more, they don’t rely on the team leader as the primary source of accountability, they go directly to their peers. This matters because…
  5. Inattention to Results: … teams that trust one another, engage in conflict, commit to decisions, and hold one another accountable are very likely to set aside their individual needs and agendas and focus almost exclusively on what is best for the team. They do not give in to the temptation to place their departments, career aspirations, or ego-driven status ahead of the collective results that define team success.

That’s it. Time to get to work.

A few (long) thoughts on this.