What are the Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Author: Priscilla Nunn
Being dysfunctional can make a team ineffective from accomplishing its goals. The characteristics of an effective team are strong leadership, shared purposes, clear goals, defined roles and responsibilities, open communication, shared norms and values and full participation. The five dysfunctions that Patrick Lencioni explains in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” are as follows: Absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results.
Dysfunction 1
Absence of Trust: The fear of being vulnerable with team members prevents the building of trust within the team. When there is absence of trust, a team tends to conceal weaknesses and mistakes, do not ask for help or offer help, do not give constructive feedback or accept feedback, tell themselves stories about others behavior, not open to other ideas and experiences, avoid meetings, waste time gossiping, do not know anything about their fellow team members. On the other hand when you trust your team members you will start to admit weakness and mistakes; apologizes, asks for help, seeks feedback and give feedback, accept diverse ideas and experiences, open communicator, look forward to and prepare for meetings, interested in the personal lives of their team members. Building trust: Trust is the foundation of teamwork. Trust is all about being vulnerable. Building trust takes time. Trust is never complete, it must be maintained. It is a journey not a destination.
Dysfunction 2
Fear of Conflict: The desire to preserve artificial harmony stifles the occurrence of productive ideological conflict. The best examples of fear of conflict are: Controlled meetings, behind the scene politics, ignore controversial topics, not seeking opposing opinions and not taking risk. The best examples of healthy conflict are lively meetings, keeping all issues out in the open, no side meetings, seeking options of others and solving problems. The key points in mastering conflict are it requires trust, it is uncomfortable, you need a process for handling conflict and never avoid conflicts.
Dysfunction 3
Lack of Commitment: The lack of clarity or buy-in prevents team members from making decisions they will stick to. Failure to commit occurs when there is: no clarity about direction or priorities, too much analysis and delays, lack of confidence, fear of failure and inability to make decisions. Strong commitment occurs when there is clear direction and priorities, shared goals and objectives, no fear to make decisions, solving problems and taking chances. The key points in achieving commitment are: Be clear and get buy-in, avoid assumptions and end discussion with everyone understanding what was agreed upon, disagreement can occur with commitment and buy-in does not require consensus.
Dysfunction 4
Avoidance of Accountability: The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding one another accountable. Avoiding accountability creates resentment around performance standards and expectations, encourages average performance, miss commitments, deadlines and deliverables, pass interpersonal issues on to the leader of team. In order to achieve effective accountability, set expectations that everyone gives their best, treat each other with respect and address interpersonal issues without involving the leader. The key points in embracing accountability are each team member must hold each other accountable, use meetings to hold one another accountable.
Dysfunction 5
Inattention to Results: The pursuit of individual goals and personal status erodes the focus on collective success. If the team is not focussed on results then it fails to grow, encourages individual goal seeking vs. team goal seeking, and will not be able to stay focussed on goal. If the team is focussed on results then it will: be achievement oriented, focus on team and not individual contribution, celebrate successes, learn from failures and stay focussed on the goal.

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