Take a moment to answer these questions:

Do you ask for help when you need it, or do you prefer to be left alone?

Do you gladly accept feedback, or do you hold grudges when others express their opinion?

Do you attack the problem and not the person when conflicts arise, or do you get historical (bringing up past issues and decisions) when dealing with problems?

In the same way that you did not have a say in which family you will belong to, you also do not have the power to choose your colleagues.

Again, just like in a family, the members of an organization are diverse – each one has a different set of personalities, beliefs, and values.

Due to these differences, many organizations find it difficult to build an effective and highly functional team.

Why are functional teams important?

It is crucial to emphasize that high-performing teams are your greatest asset.

If you want to conquer the market, prevail in your industry, and go boldly against any competitor at any given time, then you need to make sure that everyone in your team is on the same page – all moving in the same direction.

In theory, learning how to build effective, high-performing teams is simple to understand.

But in reality, it takes courage, grit, patience, commitment, and effective leaders and systems.

Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Patrick Lencioni is one of the founders of the Table Group and the pioneer of the organizational health movement.

A trailblazer, Lencioni authored the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, a life-changing resource to many organizations and has become the basis and foundation on how to build an effective team and how to develop a healthy organization.

This book is so in-demand that it has been translated to 30 languages and has sold over 6 million copies.

#1: Absence of Trust

“The fear of being vulnerable prevents team members from building trust with each other.”

Without trust, it is impossible to be totally transparent and honest with one another. Trust is the foundation of any relationship whether it be between a husband and a wife, a parent and a child, or an organization and its employees. Inarguably, trust is the cornerstone of team effectiveness.

What to Do: Build trust.

Create a safe, open, and non-judgmental environment. When you make mistakes, be a good role model and humbly admit them. Make your getting-to-know activities casual and fun to eliminate any apprehension or tension that your team members may be feeling.

#2: Fear of Conflict

“The desire to preserve artificial harmony stifles productive ideological conflict within the team.”

Suppressing constructive or productive conflict increases the chances of destructive complaining and whining. As a result of the lack, or worse, absence of trust, it is impossible to have healthy debates and discussions, with the latter as the key component in producing well thought of and sound decisions.

What to Do: Overcome fear of conflict.

Conflict, when handled well, can pave the way for innovation. Mine conflict, but make sure to set a standard for constructive conflict first. Identify, discuss, and determine acceptable and unacceptable behaviors when dealing with conflict.

#3: Lack of Commitment

“The lack of clarity and/or buy-in prevents team members from making decisions they stick to.”

When a decision is made out of artificial harmony, it is difficult to expect full commitment from the individual members who disagreed with the final decision. This destructive “harmony” creates either a fearful or a fantasy environment – the ideal formula that leads to disaster.

What to Do: Commit to decisions.

When your team culture is built on trust and healthy conflict, individual members can easily commit to decisions because they feel significant, heard, and respected. Set clear directions and priorities as you let everyone know their roles. As you do so, guarantee them that you are all pursuing similar objectives and treading towards the same direction.

#4: Avoidance of Accountability

“The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding each other accountable for their behaviors and performance.”

If your team members are not fully committed to the decisions made, it is hard for them to feel accountable or hold others accountable. Honest remarks uttered with good intentions can be easily misinterpreted. It is emotionally draining to think of how you can be constructively direct with your colleague without causing any misunderstanding.

What to Do: Increase accountability.

With your team members trusting one another, comfortable with productive conflict, and committed to the final decision, holding one another accountable and taking accountability, no matter how difficult these are, will not be a concern. Let the members know how their role contributes to the team’s success. Implement the same standard for everyone and recognize good team performance with praise or rewards.

#5: Inattention to Results

“The pursuit of individual goals and personal status erodes the team’s focus on collective success.”

As a result of the absence of trust, avoidance of conflict, lack of commitment and accountability, lack of focus, if not the absence of it, poor performance, and a high team turnover are the expected conclusion. If the team does not care about the group results because of the dysfunctions mentioned earlier, it is most likely that individual members would care only about their individual goals.

What to Do: Pay attention to results.

With the right foundations set in place, it is easy for team members to keep their eye on the results as they commit to doing their roles in a healthy working environment. Result-oriented teams working in an environment where they are heard and respected are extremely driven and have less team turnover.

What a High-Performing Team Looks Like

If the items enumerated above show the signs of a highly dysfunctional team, then what does a high-performing team look like?

Patrick addressed these dysfunctions and provides us with a quick overview of the five behaviors that effective and collaborative high-performing teams should have:

  1. Trust one another
  2. Engage in conflict around ideas
  3. Commit to decisions
  4. Hold one another accountable
  5. Focus on achieving collective results

Ready to Dominate the World?

You may not choose the people you work with but you can choose to be a significant team player as you desire to be a part of a high-performing team that delivers results.

Remember, it is okay to slow down to speed up if you are slowing down to make time for managing with clarity or developing your team into a cohesive, effective, high-performing, and world-dominating one.

This concept may sound simple but using Lencioni’s model involves guidance and skill. If you would like the guidance of seasoned team coaching experts, we would love to have a conversation! Reach out and contact us to learn about our Overcoming the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team program or our other leadership development solutions.

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