The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Developing a cohesive team is a critical component to building a healthy business.

Where only 1 or a few people on the team are engaging in personal and professional development, implementing new ideas, systems, etc., can become a struggle as those not pursuing growth can be disengaged and disinterested in contributing to moving the business forward. In this case the lowest common denominator is holding up and blocking growth and development, which is why we say:

A business can only grow to the level of its incompetence.

When looking to grow as a team, you will find that there are some “roadblocks” that prevent or delay progress, but may be unable to identify the source. Here, we look at the 5 dysfunctions:

  1. Absence of trust – an unwillingness to be vulnerable. Trust is the confidence among team members that their peers´ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. Teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another, and be confident that their respective vulnerabilities will not be used against them. Teams that lack trust waste much time and energy managing their behaviours and interactions within the group.
  1. Fear of conflict – All great relationship, the ones that last over time, require productive conflict in order to grow. It is important to distinguish productive ideological conflict from destructive fighting and interpersonal politics. Teams that engage in productive conflict know that its only purpose is to produce the best possible solution in the shortest period of time. They discuss and resolve issues more quickly and completely than other teams do, and they emerge from heated debates with no residual feelings or collateral damage, but with an eagerness and readiness to take on the next important issue.
  1. Lack of commitment – Commitment is a function of two things: Clarity and Buy-In. Great teams make clear and timely decisions, they move forward with complete buy-in from every team member, even those who voted against the decision. They leave meetings confident that no one on the team is quietly harbouring doubts about whether to support the actions agreed on.
  1. Avoidance of accountability – Accountability is the willingness of team members to call their peers on performance or behaviors that might hurt the team. The essence of this dysfunction is an unwillingness by team members to tolerate the interpersonal discomfort that accompanies calling a peer on his or her behaviour and the more general tendency to avoid difficult conversations.
  1. Inattention to results – The ultimate dysfunction of a team is when team members put their individual needs (ego, career, recognition) or even the needs of their divisions above the collective goals of the team. An unrelenting focus on specific objectives and clearly defined outcomes is a requirement for any team that judges itself on performance. Results are not limited to financial measures, like profit, revenue or shareholder returns. This dysfunction refers to a far broader definition of results, one that is related to outcome-based performance.

Once identified, the dysfunctions can be addressed with the intended outcome being a strong, functional, cohesive team:

  1. They trust one another
  2. They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas
  3. They commit to decisions and plans of actions
  4. They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans
  5. They focus on the achievement of collective results.

For more information on team development and personal productivity, contact PROTRADE United today.

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