Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Dysfunctional Teams

At the ASTD keynote by Patrick Lencioni - Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Quick search and I found some good notes on different web sites so I don't have to type so much. Here's a good one.

He used an interesting thing in order to get questions - gave free copies of his book to people with questions. He got a lot of questions right away - not sure it works all that well with an audience of 5,000.

The Five Dysfunctions of Teams are:

Absence of Trust: Trust is the foundation of real teamwork. However, in most teams members will not be "vulnerable" with each other (air dirty laundry, admit mistakes, weaknesses and concerns without fear of reprisal). Without trust the team will not be able to achieve results.

One member of a team can break down trust. You can't go into a process unwilling to get rid of any team members.

Even if it's the leader - who you must be honest with about their issues.

You should be more vulnerable - but must be genuine. Vulnerability is always a little painful. Can you be too vulnerable? No. But showing yourself as incompetent is not good either.

Fear of Conflict: Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate about ideas. Instead, they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments.

Productive, idealogical conflict is good. This looks different for different teams. Conflict in Japan is quite different from the US. He talked about NY vs. Silicon Valley. Not important the style that's in use, but you want to know they are engaging when they disagree.

You have to be able to disagree, even passionately.

Why don't you do it more? Fear of getting feelings hurt. His point is that if you don't have conflict around issues it will become conflict around people.

Leader must model and even mine for conflict.

Lack of Commitment: Without having aired their opinions in the course of passionate and open debate, team members rarely, if ever, buy in and commit to decisions.

Without conflict there's no commitment. He doesn't necessarily want consensus. Most times you have an important decision to make - you have to hear everyone out and then decide which one to go with. If they don't feel they've been heard, they will simply not commit.

Disagree and commit.

Avoidance of Accountability: Without commitment and buy-in to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven people often hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that seem counterproductive to the good of the team.

Biggest problem on teams. Peer-to-peer accountability is the most powerful. If they know that peers don't buy in, then there won't be action.

Leader must be willing to confront tough problems. CEO might say - I don't have the time and energy for that. Afraid to hold people accountable for behaviors. People don't like to do these confrontational events.

Inattention to Results: Failure to hold one another accountable creates an environment where team members put their individual needs or even the needs of their division above the collective goals of the team.

What else can you focus on? Feelings. Relationships.

Healthy teams:

  • Members trust one another.
  • They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.
  • They commit to decisions and plans of action.
  • They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans.
  • They focus on the achievement of collective results.

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