The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

by Michelle Randall on November 5, 2012

I recently read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. Instead of your standard business book, it bills itself as a ‘leadership fable’, which isentirely true and contributes to is readability and impact. I want to share some thoughts with you, because we are in a massively team-focused business, and this book struck chords with me.

The book describes a management team that is operating inefficiently.  Lencioni describes how the five dysfunctions have caused this particular work environment to become toxic. In a nut, the five dysfunctions are:

Dysfunction 1 – Absence of Trust

Dysfunction 2 – Fear of Conflict

Dysfunction 3 – Lack of Commitment

Dysfunction 4 – Avoidance of Accountability

Dysfunction 5 – Inattention to Results

I interpreted this book on a more granular level.  The book discusses its mythical management team needing to pull together and work out the kinks within their roles in the company so they can effectively manage their individual departments and maintain a strong work environment as a whole without the dysfunctions sending them to ruin.

That’s a great premise for a book (and Lencioni absolutely nails these particular problems), but in my experience, I think the playing field is much larger than that.

Why not go a step further?

Why not achieve the “ultimate” elite team, not just one that doesn’t suffer from critical dysfunctions?

Every person — whether a contractor or employee — has potentially valuable input. By breaking that invisible yet distinctive line between departments, roles, employees and contractors and coming together collectively as a whole team to discuss key operations in the workplace, your team could suddenly become a top competitor in every aspect. We’ve done this here at MIPRO since 2005, and while new employees have told us they’ve never seen a collaborative environment like the one we try to foster, they pretty quickly see how effective it is.

Lencioni highlights individual team members being put in the “hot seat” while others point out their strengths and weaknesses; a variation of a 360-degree methodology. We’ve done this here; it’s a very compelling and daring experience, depending on how it’s executed and how solid the team relationships are prior to beginning the exercise. While I fear sitting in that room and having my weaknesses pointed out to me by my team members, I think it would be beneficial to hear them so I can improve and push forward. You don’t learn without pain, ever. Why would team dynamics be any different?

While a dysfunction-free team is a great idea on paper, it is very difficult to not only achieve this in a work environment, but also to maintain it every day. But once you flip the switch and get your team moving in the right direction, it’s forever transformed.

Don’t be afraid to investigate this further. It’s worth your time.

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