How to Overcome the Five Dysfunctions of a Team


How a business weathers everyday challenges depends on the organization's leadership and its work teams. Patrick M. Lencioni identified the "Five Dysfunctions of a Team" that can make a business function poorly: inattention to results, avoidance of accountability, lack of commitment, fear of conflict and absence of trust. Addressing them is essential to the success of your business.

Create progress reports to deal with inattention to results. Showing team members how they are performing poorly or not performing at all puts things into perspective. Take the discussion a step further by explaining the consequences of continued inattention.

Reinforce the idea that accepting responsibility is expected of adults. Explain to your team that avoidance of accountability is counterproductive and will inevitably lead to failure.

Motivate team members to restore commitment. Ask team members what motivated them to work for your company. Lack of commitment is often the result of a disconnection to the original motivation.

Dare your team to confront conflict directly. Remind team members that abrasion is what causes a diamond to shine. Team members should welcome rather than fear conflict and criticism. Conflict is the alternate perspective that causes you to think differently even if you disagree with it.

Be honest. An absence of trust is most likely an absence of truth. Work with your team to create an environment in which they can be honest about progress, limitations and challenges.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make it a team effort---led by management---to overcome these challenges. Create some enforcable measures as well as checkpoints to measure your progress.
  • It may be difficult for employees to admit they're having these problems. Encourage honesty as the best way to improve the cohesion and work quality of the team.

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