The staff meeting is more of a lecture and less of a discussion or debate…again.  The league championship is lost when the star player makes the game all about how many points HE scores.  In the conference room, everyone agrees on the best solution, but the water cooler talk suggests there’s anything but consensus.  Team dysfunction.  It’s human nature, right?

“Ironically, teams succeed because they are exceedingly human.”  This isn’t the first time our friends and readers have seen us reference Patrick Lencioni, but what can I say?  The author’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team crystalizes the maddening, seemingly complex, and all-too-familiar foibles of teams into five behaviors we can relate to:

  1. Absence of Trust – Offered little opportunity to connect beyond our professional roles, I haven’t had the opportunity to build trust in you or for you to develop trust in me. And if I can’t trust you, how can I admit I need help and ask you for it?
  2. Fear of Conflict – Conflict. The mere word conjures up terrifying images of raised voices and name-calling.  As a result, I may be tempted to avoid conflict altogether in the interest of harmony (albeit the artificial kind).
  3. Lack of Commitment – Too often, the “solution” is handed to us, without reason or explanation and with our roles vague and unclear. I may go through the motions, but my buy-in is minimal at best.
  4. Avoidance of Accountability – Because my commitment is limited, I’m content to leave someone else (ideally with a pay grade above mine) to hold my colleagues and me accountable to the work at hand.
  5. Inattention to Results – Without collective ownership and buy-in, it’s only natural I will put my own interests first and above those of the team.

If this sounds all too familiar, Part 2 of this series explores the behaviors that combat these dysfunctions and create cohesive, collaborative teams.  Spoiler alert:  It requires common sense combined with a commitment by team leaders and members to both discipline and persistence.  We promise, though, the rewards for team members and productivity far outweigh the time and energy you’ll spend.

Betsy Wallace
Betsy is committed to strategic growth and leadership strategies for small businesses. Prior to joining the CSR team and founding E. Wallace Strategies, Betsy was a Senior Relationship Manager with NeighborWorks America, the country’s preeminent leader in affordable housing and community development. In her nineteen years with NeighborWorks, Betsy consulted with network members developing growth strategies and sustaining partnerships, collaborations, and alliances to expand their impact in communities across the United States. She honed almost two decades of expertise in organizational development, executive transition, program evaluation, and governance as well. Betsy co-managed and served as a Coach for NeighborWorks America’s national Excellence in Governance program and served on the Faculty of the NeighborWorks Training Institute.