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Is Your Team Dysfunctional?

One of the most interesting models of team effectiveness was developed by Patrick Lencioni (2005). According to him, all teams have the potential to be dysfunctional. To improve the functioning of a team, it is critical to understand the type and level of dysfunction. Similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory (1954), there are five levels and each must be completed to move on to the next one.

Here are five potential dysfunctions of a team in Lencioni’s model:

1.  Absence of Trust

This outcome occurs when team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with one another and are unwilling to admit their mistakes, weaknesses, or need for help. Without a certain comfort level among team members, a foundation of trust is not possible.

2.  Fear of Conflict

Teams that are lacking trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate about key issues. It creates
situations where team conflict can easily turn into veiled discussions and back channel comments. In a work setting where team members do not openly air their opinions, inferior decisions result.

3.  Lack of Commitment

Without conflict, it is difficult for team members to commit to decisions, fostering an environment where ambiguity prevails. Lack of direction and commitment can make employees, particularly star employees, disgruntled and disenfranchised.

4.  Avoidance of Accountability

When teams do not commit to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven individuals are hesitant to call their peers on actions and behaviours that may seem counterproductive to the overall good of the team.

5.  Inattention to Results

Team members naturally tend to put their own needs (e.g., ego, career development, recognition, and so on) ahead of the collective goals of the team when individuals are not held accountable. If a team has lost sight of the need for
achievement, the business ultimately suffers.

When the team are working in harmony, these dysfunctions cease to cause problems. Lencioni’s model highlights the results when the team lack trust, and this should be the area you concentrate on the most.

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