The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Part III

24.06.2020


Today, we continue our discussion around our latest Lockdown read, ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ by Patrick Lencioni.

If you didn’t catch our first two blogs, around Absence of Trust and Fear of Conflict, they can be found here.

This week, we will explore the next dysfunction:

 Dysfunction Three: Lack of Commitment

Lencioni believes that in the context of a team, commitment is a function of two things: Clarity and buy-in.

He believes that the biggest causes for a lack of commitment are:

Consensus: Lencioni believes that a great team understand that people do not need to get their own way in order to support a decision, but do need to know that their opinions were listened to and considered before that final decision was made.

Certainty: Lencioni advises that “A decision is better than no decision”. He believes that great teams understand this and will therefore fully commit to a decision once it is made. If it proves to be wrong, the same level of commitment will be shown to the new decision. This level of certainty prevents the team being paralysed by indecision and stops a lack of confidence spilling across the team.

 So, is ‘Lack of Commitment’ a dysfunction of your team?

 Here are some of the traits of teams with a lack of commitment:

  • The same discussions and decisions are revisited again and again
  • There is ambiguity in the team around direction and priorities
  • Opportunities are missed due to excessive analysis and associated delay

 So, if we know this is a dysfunction of our team, how can we address it?

Lencioni suggests some of the below tools:

Cascading messaging: Lencioni suggests that at the end of each meeting, key decisions are reviewed and agreement is made on what needs to be communicated to the wider team. By following this process, it will identify any decisions where the team are not actually ‘on the same page’ so that this can be addressed before the meeting ends. By confirming which decisions are to be communicated and how, it also ensures that all staff receive the same consistent message.

Deadlines: A simple but incredibly effective tool is to have a clear deadline for when a decision needs to be made by – which is adhered to. Lencioni suggests not only having final deadlines, but also issuing them for key milestones and intermediate decisions, to keep focus.  

Worse-Case Scenario Analysis: Where a team are struggling to make a decision, Lencioni suggests clarifying the worse-case scenario – this will typically allow the team to reduce any fears associated with making the decision and they realise that should the decision be incorrect, it is probably less damaging than they might have initially believed.

 And what if you are the leader of a team where there is a lack of commitment?

Lencioni believes that the leader must be the most comfortable in the team with potentially making a wrong decision – this will then allow them to push for the team for closure on various issues, whilst ensuring they are adhering to the agreed deadlines for these decisions. 

Over the last 12 weeks, every business has faced a time of uncertainty.

Perhaps there have needed to be decisions around furloughing staff?

Perhaps there have needed to be decisions around cutting costs?

Perhaps there have needed to be decisions around new sales and business development plans?

 What will have been the consistent for everyone, is that we are in unprecedented times – did this cause your team to lose commitment to decisions?

Have you been in ‘Ground-hog day’ meetings, where the same items are debated again and again – with no clear decision?

Have the wider team been impacted – are they still clear on the company vision, long-term and short-term plans? Or is there now ambiguity across departments?

Or perhaps your team hasn’t experienced a lack of commitment – in which case Lencioni would expect you have seen some of the below advantages:

  • You have taken advantage of opportunities before competitors do
  • The whole team is aligned around common objectives
  • There is clarity for all around direction and priorities
  • The company is moving forward without hesitation – but also has an ability to learn from mistakes

  

Next week, we will explore the fourth dysfunction that Lencioni identified: Avoidance of Accountability. If you want to learn more about this subject, the book can be purchased here.


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