Penny Mallory

Penny Mallory

There are some dysfunctions that are really unhelpful to team performance. Even if you already have a strong cohesive team in place, there is a still a risk of dysfunction because of the following:

1. The absence of trust. This is a critical requirement of all teams—the foundation—and it involves people being open and vulnerable with one another. They must feel safe admitting their mistakes, their strengths, and their weaknesses. No team can be built without trust, because if we don’t have trust, we can’t overcome the second dysfunction.

2. Fear of conflict. Conflict is not only a good thing; it is necessary and required. We have to engage in conflicts, and when we have trust, conflict becomes nothing but the passionate pursuit of truth or the best possible answer. Without conflict, a team will encounter the third dysfunction of a team.

3. Lack of commitment. Teams that don’t engage in open and honest conflict don’t really commit to the decisions they make—they are passive about it. With commitment, everybody truly buys in because they have made a decision and are all going to stick with it. Without commitment, your team will encounter …

4. Lack of accountability. This is so important on a team because when people are committed, they have more courage to confront one another about any shortcomings there may be in behavior and performance. If people aren’t holding each other accountable, they will encounter the final dysfunction of a team.

5. Focus on individual results. Or more importantly, the inattention to team results. It may not be the collective results of a team that someone is interested in but their own individual results (ex., their budget or their staff).

In order to focus on the collective results of a team—any team—the following is vital:

  1. We must trust one another;
  2. We have to engage in healthy conflict;
  3. We have to commit to decisions;
  4. We hold one another accountable for those decisions; and
  5. We achieve truly collective results.