Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Quick notes on a great book I picked up from my local public library (of course!) this weekend:
Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team

And in case you were wondering what those are:
  1. Absence of Trust: Trust is the foundation. Members of the team have to allow themselves to be vulnerable to one another. That trust has to be built and maintained over time.
  2. Fear of Conflict: The reason trust is the 1st dysfunction is that without it, teams cannot get over the fear of conflict. The type of conflict a team must be unafraid of are clear, open-eyed, passionate debates with one another over topics of the greatest importance to the team and to the organization. Conflict is inherently an uncomfortable situation, but it is often a necessary part of teamwork, but team members must have the courage to engage in it in order to ensure the best possible outcomes. It just has to be productive conflict, not destructive conflict. Destructive conflict is about politics, pride, sabotage, competition. Productive conflict is about the pursuit of truth -- of the best way forward. Without trust, the people involved in the conflict are more interested in winning the argument than finding a solution. They may not even have enough trust to have the conflict play out face-to-face, but may vent to others about the person they disagree with outside of the team meeting. This is destructive.
  3. Lack of Commitment: Buy-in is important, but commitment is paramount. You don't have to have the team achieve consensus. Such a charge would lead to mediocrity, delay, etc. But you do have to have all team members be committed to the final decision, even if they passionately debated against it during meetings.In fact, commitment = "... the ability to defy a lack of consensus". Everyone on the team must be committed to - and clear about - the final decision. They must return to their colleagues/department & explain the decision publicly within twenty-four hours of the meeting. This requirement makes team members participate in the debate about the decision and commit to it more completely. (to take responsibility for it).
  4. Avoidance of Accountability: a strong team includes peer-to-peer accountability. We hold fellow team members accountable. It does a colleague you trust, respect and are committed to working with, no good if you do not point out when they are off-track. Each team member has to step up to this task, no matter how uncomfortable. The leader sets the tone. They must be willing to confront difficult issues, even issues related to team members' behaviors, big and small. Meetings allow people to hold one another accountable.
  5. Inattention to Results:

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