The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – A Close Look



It is team effort that determines organizational success. As a leader, you bear the responsibility of making sure that each member in your team is motivated, confident and committed to achieve the set goals on time. In order to accomplish this crucial task successfully, you need to be aware of certain critical setbacks that may disturb team spirit, and affect team performance so that you can perform team management efficiently and increase team effectiveness. In this article, you will get to know about the five dysfunctions of a team deduced by Patrick Lencioni and the steps to follow for preventing them from impinging on your team.

"The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" – A Quick Glance

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is a famous book authored by renowned consultant and the president of The Table Group, Patrick Lencioni. Published in 2002, the book explores the five impediments that a team may face in the road to achieve success with a collective effort. Lencioni figured out the five dysfunctions of a team after conducting a survey on a good number of CEOs and management teams finding place in the prestigious Fortune 500 list. Along with the five dysfunctions, this book provides effective solutions for better team management and improved team effectiveness.

According to Lencioni, it is the absence of trust which is the root of all dysfunctions in a team. He emphasizes on the fact that the opinion of each member counts in order to achieve the team goals as he states, "teams with weigh in, buy in".

According to Patrick Lencioni, the five dysfunctions of a team are as follows.

  • Absence of Trust – Invulnerability
  • Fear of Conflict – Artificial Harmony
  • Lack of Commitment – Ambiguity
  • Avoidance of Team Accountability – Low standards
  • Inattention to Team Objectives – Status and Ego

Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Elucidation of Each

Absence of Trust/Invulnerability – A team will fail to function efficiently if there is no trust amongst the members. Self-centered approach, tendency of degrading each other and lack of focus on the team objectives are caused by the lack of trust in a team. This invulnerability shatters the foundation of a team and gives rise to office politics and hostile behavior among the team members.

# A team suffering from invulnerability

  • Hides their weak points from one another
  • Hesitates to put forward constructive criticism
  • Shows unwillingness to attend meetings
  • Hesitates to broaden horizon and take up new roles

# Solution for preventing invulnerability - Setting common goals, responsibilities and rewarding

Fear of Conflict/Artificial Harmony – When there is no trust in a team, team members hesitate or feel uncomfortable to share their ideas, thoughts and views with each other. The absence of trust gives rise to a fear of conflict among the team members as a result of which, they are reluctant in expressing their opinions and contesting ideas presented by others in a meeting. They are apprehensive about engaging in hostility with each other if they voice their views or question others’. This superficial synchronization undermines the importance of constructive conflicts in meetings that are necessary for the improvement of the overall performance of a team.

# A team suffering from fear of conflict

  • Creates repulsive work environment where politics reigns supreme
  • Fears controversy and ignore contesting ideas of others
  • Maintains an outward harmony
  • Devotes more time to defend personal interests

# Solution for preventing artificial harmony – Motivating everyone to put forward their ideas and appreciating them

Lack of commitment/Ambiguity – A team, where there is no trust and a fear of conflict rules rampant fails to give full commitment for fulfilling the objectives. Such a team consists of self-seeking professionals who are not at all interested in working towards the organizational success. As a result, there is an uncertainty within the team regarding priorities and direction.

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# A team suffering from lack of commitment

  • Falls prey to diffidence
  • Carries on endless discussions and revisions
  • Creates indistinctness among the team members

# Solution for preventing ambiguity – Prioritizing functions, communicating with each team members on a regular basis and defining scope and end-result eloquently

Avoidance of Team Accountability/Low standards – The absence of loyalty and dedication in a team results into evasion of responsibilities which is demonstrated in meetings. This creates an uncongenial work environment wherein the team members are compelled to maintain an average standard of performance. This does not contribute to organizational success.

# A team suffering from avoidance of team accountability

  • Creates an ill will within the team
  • Affects the work standards of each member of the team
  • Fails to meet deadlines due to indecisiveness and resentment

#Solution for preventing low standards – Defining a common objective, making each team member responsible for reminding each other about the fulfillment of set goals and promoting peer-to-peer accountability

Inattention to Team Objectives/Status and Ego – Employees disinterested to put their best efforts for organizational success are self-absorbed and egotistical. When one member in a team starts thinking about personal interests instead of company’s gain, an unpleasant ambience is created and all the efforts to accomplish the set business goals prove to be futile.

# A team suffering from inattention to team objectives

  • Supports team members to be concerned about their individual objectives
  • Fails to survive the competition
  • Is unable to edge past the competitors
  • Deteriorates tremendously

# Solution for preventing status and ego – Maintaining complete transparency regarding status and results and rewarding employees who accomplish goals

"The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" – For Superior Team Management and Team Effectiveness

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni aims at helping leaders to equip themselves well for managing their teams with utmost perfection. With the knowledge of these five factors that create disorder in a team and the solutions for avoiding the hurdles, a leader can carry out team management more proficiently and thereby, boost team effectiveness.

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