Book: Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

overcoming_the_five_dysfunctions“Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators” By Patrick Lencioni
  • The five dysfunctions of a team
    • “Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust: Members of great teams trust one another on a fundamental, emotional level, and they are comfortable being vulnerable wit each other about their weakness, mistakes, fears, and behaviors. They get to a point where they can be completely open with one another, without filters.”
    • “Dysfunction #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.”
    • “Dysfunction #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 memes that no stone has been left upturned.”
    • “Dysfunction #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 decisions 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.”
    • “Dysfunction #5: Inattention to Results: … teams that trust one another, engaged in conflict, commit to decisions, and hold one another accountable are very likely to set aside their individual needs and agenda 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.”
  • “When it comes to teams, trust is all about vulnerability. Team members who trust one another learn to be comfortable being open, even expose, to one another around their failures, weakness, even fears.”
  • “Vulnerability-based trust is predicated on the simple–and practical–idea that people who aren’t afraid to admin the truth about themselves are not going to engaged in the kind of political behaviors that wastes everyone’s time and energy, and more important, makes the accomplishment of results an unlikely scenario.”
  • “For a team to establish real trust, team members, beginning with the leader, must be willing to take risks without a guarantee of success. They will have to be vulnerable without knowing whether that vulnerability will be respected and reciprocated.”
  • “At a staff meeting or off-site, go around the room and have every member of the team explain three things: where they grew up, how many kids were in their family, and what was the most difficult or important challenge of their childhood (but not their inner childhood; just the most important challenge of being a kid!).”
  • “When team members reveal aspects of their personal lives to their peers, they learn to get comfortable being open with them about other things. They begin to let down their guard about their strengths, weaknesses, opinions, and ideas.”
  • “People need to feel the gradual progress of opening up to their peers before diving in too deep.”
  • “The fundamental attribution error is simply this: human beings tend to falsely attribute the negative behaviors of others to their character (an internal attribution), while they attribute their own negative behaviors to their environment (an external attribution).”
  • “Similarly, we often attribute other people’s success to their environment and our own success to our character. That’s because we like to believe that we are inherently good and talented, while others are merely lucky, beneficiaries of good fortune.”
  • “By going through the Personal Histories Exercise, team members come to understand the people they are today.”
  • “For instance, a couple of people out of every ten we take through the exercise will report that they’re unable to think of any difficulties from their childhood.”
  • “On the other hand, it isn’t uncommon that one or two members of a team will disclose something particularly sensitive The alcoholism of a parent. The death of a sibling or friend. A difficult family relationship. It is important for a facilitator to demonstrate focused listening and respectful appreciation during these moments. Sometimes the best way to do that is to allow a quiet moment to pass after the story, smile at the person who shared their story, and just say think you.”
  • “However, this is an exercise you don’t want to manage too closely, because cutting people off or interrupting is particularly bad during this kind of conversation.”
  • “Everyone on a team has to participate. That doesn’t’ mean that everyone will do it the same way. But if even one member of a team is unwilling to be open about weakness, mistakes, and issues, it will have a profound impact on everyone else.”
  • “On one extreme are the people who are comfortable screaming and shouting and arguing passionately; on the other are those who aren’t comfortable airing the mildest of dissenting opinions out of fear of offending. It’s important for the team to understand where people fall in this range, and why they fall there, so they can establish a conflict culture that everyone understands and adjusts to.”
  • “Ask everyone on the team to read their own conflict profiles in the Myers-Briggs book (or whatever other tool you’re using), and then to discuss how that meshes with their personal views on conflict. As them to explain how their view of conflict was shaped by their childhood or maturation process.”
  • “The key to all of this involving team members in establishing norms, and then holding everyone accountable to what they’ve agreed upon.”
  • “As odd as it may sound, a leader should interrupt team members who are in the midst of an uncustomary debate, simply to remind them that what they are doing is okay.”
  • “But when you give them explicit permission precisely at the moment they need it, they take it more to heart, and you’ve provided a valuable teaching moment.”
  • Conflict Resolution Obstacles: “Things like environmental obstacles (the physical environment where the conflict is taking place), relationship obstacles (an unresolved legacy event between the team members involved), and individual obstacles (an emotional or social deficiency on the part of one particular team member).”
  • “commitment is not consensus. Waiting for everyone on a team to agree intellectually on a decision is a good recipe for mediocrity, delay, and frustration”
  • “Ironically, commitment is something of the opposite. It’s about a group of intelligent, driven individuals buying in to a decision precisely when they don’t naturally agree. In other words, it’s the ability to defy a lack of consensus.”
  • “In any case, by being extremely explicit about what has been agreed upon, a team will be able to identify discrepancies before a decision has been announced.”
  • Cascading communication: “That means demanding that the team go back and communicate the decisions to their staff members within twenty four hours of the meeting. And not by email or voice mail but either live in person or on the phone, thus giving employees a chance to ask questions for clarification.”
  • “Teams must commit to rules of engagement around timeliness at meetings, responsiveness in communication, and general interpersonal behavior.”
  • Thematic goal: “This is nothing more than a single common unifying goal for the team, something that everyone on the team should be thinking about and working toward in the course of their daily responsibilities.”
  • “When it comes to teamwork, I defined accountability as the willingness of team members to remind one another when they are not living up to the performance standards of the group.”
  • “But most leaders I know have a far easier time holding people accountable for their results than they do for behavioral issues. This is a problem because behavioral problems almost always precede results. That means team members have to be willing to call each other on behavioral issues, as uncomfortable as that might be, and if they see their leader balk at doing this, then they aren’t going to do it themselves.”
  • “During an off-site meeting, or any other session where you have well over an hour available, have everyone o the team write down their answers to two simple questions about every member of the team, excluding themselves. The first question: ‘What is the single most important behavioral characteristic or quality demonstrated by this person that contributes to the strength of our team?’ The second: ‘What is the single most important behavioral characteristic or quality demonstrated by this person that can sometimes derail the team?'”
  • “Once everyone has finished jotting down their answers, the facilitator starts by putting the leader of the team up first. One by one, the team members each read their positive quality of the leader. The leader cannot respond to any of the feedback, other than to ask for clarification if something isn’t clear. When everyone has gone, the facilitator asks the leader for any general reaction.”
  • “Then, the facilitator goes around the room (I like to go in the opposite direction) asking each member to provide their constructive feedback to the leader. Again, the responses are usually consistent and tactfully, graciously offered. And when everyone is finished, the leader again is asked for a general reaction.”
  • “Of course, now that the leader has served as a role model for the exercise, the rest of the team is up, one by one.”
  • “The first way to do this is to have all team members e-mail their areas of strength and areas for improvement to the team leader. Then, a few months after the session where the exercise too place, the team should review those areas and discuss them again.”
  • “Results-oriented teams establish their own measurements for success. They don’t allow themselves the wiggle room of subjectivity.”
  • “By committing, early and publicly, to what it will achieve, and by constantly reviewing its progress against those expected achievements (a.k.a. the scoreboard).”
  • “But remember, this isn’t about measuring everything. That creates just as much confusion by overwhelming people. This is about giving people a simple way to gauge their success and to stay focused on the right priorities so that they aren’t distracted by something else.”
  • “On strong teams, no one is happy until everyone is succeeding, because that’s the only way to achieve the collective results of the group. Of course, this implies that individual egos are less important than team achievements.”
  • “Even the most altruistic team members will at times have to focus on their own career advancement and financial needs.” “A great team will understand those needs, and the validity of them, but not let them distract the team from achieving the collective goals. The key is to doing that is being open about what people need, and not making them feel guilty or selfish or acknowledging those needs.”
  • “If there is trust among team members, no one will take the comments as selfish or anti-team. In fact, they should be glad that the person put the issue on the table for everyone to help with, because if they don’t, then it will eventually fester and create problems that impact the team’s performance.”
  • “The key to success for a team is that its members go beyond barter and compromise to embrace a collective pursuit of the best interests of the whole.”
  • “Sometimes people decide not to oppose a team-building effort actively but rather to sit back and derail the effort passively.” “But the only way that I’ve found to win converts among the skeptics is to face them head on.” “As initially awkward as it is to confront someone (‘Fred, it seems like you’re not engaging here. Are you uncomfortable with what we’re doing, or is there another issue you want to help us understand?’), it is often the most effective way to defuse tension in the room and move the team forward.”
  • Online team assessment: www.tablegroup.com/dysfunctions
  • “In fact, it is not uncommon that as much as 20 percent of each team member’s time is spent working through issues and solving problems with the team as a whole.”
  • Team Assessment (For each item score: 3 = usually, 2 = sometimes, 1 = not usually)
    1. “Team members are passionate and unguarded in their discussion of issues.”
    2. “Team members call out one another’s deficiencies or unproductive behaviors.”
    3. “Team members know what their peers are working on and how they contribute to the collective good of the team.”
    4. “Team members quickly and genuinely apologize to one another when they say or do something inappropriate or possibly damaging to the team.”
    5. “Team members willingly make sacrifices (such as budget, turf, head count) in their departments or areas of expertise for the good of the team.”
    6. “Team members openly admit their weaknesses and mistakes.”
    7. “Team meetings are compelling and not boring.”
    8. “Team members leave meetings confident that their peers are completely committed to the decisions agreed upon during the meeting, even if there was initial disagreement.”
    9. “Morale is significantly affected by the failure to achieve team goals.”
    10. “During team meetings, the most important and most difficult issue are put on the table to be resolved.”
    11. “Team members are deeply concerned about the prospect of letting down their peers.”
    12. “Team members know about one another’s personal lives and are comfortable discussing them.”
    13. “Team members end discussions with clear and specific resolutions and calls to action.”
    14. “Team members challenge one another about their plans and approaches.”
    15. “Team members are slow to sek credit for their own contributions but quick to point out those of others.”
  • Scoring Team Assessment (add the score for each dysfunction)
    • Dysfunction 1: Statement 4, 6, 12
    • Dysfunction 2: Statement 1, 7, 10
    • Dysfunction 3: Statement 3, 8, 13
    • Dysfunction 4: Statement 2, 11, 14
    • Dysfunction 5: Statement 5, 9, 15
    • 8-9 = prob ably not a problem
    • 6-7 = could be a problem
    • 3-5 = needs to be addressed
  • Clarification of Team Principles
    • “Have the team discuss and come to resolution around the following issues–and any other that the team deems important
      • The structure and schedule for meetings
      • Acceptable behavior during meetings (for example, laptop use)
      • The preferred methods for communication (for example, e-mail, voice mail, and so on) and the norms around how to use them
      • The timeliness of responding to one another and otherwise
      • The availability of team members during nonwork hours
      • The level of freedom in which team members can engage one another’s staffs
      • The extent to which being on time is priority”

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