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The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team and How to Fix Them

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We’ve all heard the Together Everyone Achieves More acronym and it does serve as a reminder of why teamwork is important in the workplace. A team is more than just a group of workers, located together, doing their jobs. Real teamwork in the workplace comes from employees being interdependent. In order to function, they require certain fundamental elements such as trust, accountability and commitment.

Patrick Lencioni in his book, The 5 dysfunctions of a team, outlines 5 elements that can cause teamwork in the workplace to lose traction causing the team to fall short of their potential. The Lencioni Model is structured like a pyramid and, in order to deal with dysfunction, you need to start at the bottom and work your way up.

The 5 elements are:

  • Absence of trust: If there is no workplace teamwork your employees won’t trust you or each other and they won’t work well together. Indications of this team dysfunction come in the form of workers not admitting to making mistakes, faking competence and not asking for help.
  • Fear of conflict: Healthy conflict is a necessary component of innovation and performance and if your teamwork strategies for the workplace do not include conflict resolution, it could cause employees to stagnate. Indications may appear as a reluctance to speak up or being overly accommodating.
  • Lack of commitment: This can arise due to a lack of direction, clarity of goals or priorities. It can be seen in people doing their own thing, not following procedures, agreeing in meetings and ‘white-anting’ outside the meeting.
  • Avoidance of accountability: In order to be successful, workplace teamwork has to involve accountability. Team members have to hold themselves and each other accountable. Avoidance of accountability is demonstrated by mediocre results, little feedback being given or taken on board and missing deadlines.
  • Inattention to results: One of the big examples of teamwork in the workplace is when the team is focused on their collective goals. If each team member doesn’t consider the goals of the entire team they’ll never hit them. Teams like this may lose their achievement orientated employees or have team members more focused on growing their own empire than being part of the big picture.

Lencioni also discusses ways to address each team dysfunction, and these must be done from the bottom of the pyramid up.

We need to start with practices that increase trust. Build relationships based on respect for diversity of opinion. Keep commitments, use clear and transparent communication, show vulnerability by admitting mistakes.

As you build relationships and increase teamwork in the workplace, get to the root cause of the fear of conflict. Start to dig for the real issues, ask for opinions and demonstrate that it’s not about right and wrong and more about understanding and focusing on solutions.

Once issues are in the open, gain clarity around standards, expectations, goals and priorities. Stamp out gossip and white-anting and keep channels of communication open.

Increase accountability through clarity and consequences. Have difficult conversations and provide feedback on the impact of the workers’ actions. Providing examples of teamwork in the workplace that have garnered positive outcomes can also enhance this feedback.

Allow workers to see how they fit into the big picture so they can realise their value. Promote ownership of actions and base rewards on results that arise from teamwork in the workplace.

Building high performing teams can be a long process but the investments you make in avoiding or fixing any team dysfunction will pay dividends in staff retention, productivity and relationships. That is why teamwork is so important in the workplace. 

If you would like more information on working in Teams, contact Jill on 1300 850959

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JEM Management Training

JEM Management Training designs and delivers flexible, in-house management training courses to help  organisations in Perth engage their staff fully in the workplace.

As time is often limited, JEM Training offers flexible half-day management training courses which focus on a specific area of management expertise. These short courses build upon each other over a period of time, chosen by you, to provide ongoing management development.

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