The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team is a book written by Patrick Lencioni. It is written as a fable about a CEO that joins to rebuild a team of executives in a company that is struggling in a competitive market place. It describes, as a leader, how she goes about building a highly functional team by using the 5 dysfunctions of a team model.
I have previously started writing about the 5 dysfunctions, see my post:
- Dysfunction One - Absence of Trust
- Dysfunction Two - Fear of Conflict
- Dysfunction Three- Lack of Commitment
We have learnt so far, in the above posts, that the foundation to build a functional team is to establish trust. We need to feel that we are in an environment where we can talk freely. Without trust, we will not be able to deal with conflict and if we can't deal with conflict we will never get commitment. Without commitment, we will be hampered by dysfunction 4.
Dysfunction Four: Avoidance of Accountability
Accountability is one of those words that many people talk about in business but is often not enforced within an organisation's culture.
The avoidance of accountability is similar to dysfunction two, in that it stems from fear and as we have discussed previously, fear propagates in a low trust environment. We fear holding our peers to account. For example, in business, if the sales team do not hit their targets it may be the case that the operations team would not want to say anything. They would feel that they are interfering in another area of the business. However, if we want success from our team then we need to hold each other to account on what we have agreed. If we fail to hold each other to account then this will result in low standards.
“Avoidance of Accountability – Teams that commit to decisions and standards of performance do not hesitate to hold one another accountable for adhering to those decisions and standards. What is more, they don’t rely on the team leader as the primary source of accountability, they go directly to their peers.”
Removing the Avoidance of Accountability in your Team
To deal with this issue we need to work in a trust environment where we know we are all rowing in the same direction. In a trust environment, when we hold someone to account we know it is for the right reasons.
We also need to deal with the ambiguity that arises from not properly debating and considering the opinions of others which results in artificial harmony. In other words, you need to deal with the first three dysfunctions to establish accountability.
In a weak team, there is no accountability. In a mediocre team, the leader holds the team members to account. In a highly functional team, the team members hold each other to account. It takes courage but it will deliver results.
The mechanism for holding people to account is through feedback. Don't hold back if you feel there is something wrong. Someone famous once said, "there is no such thing as bad feedback but just feedback given badly." If we give feedback with tact and empathy most people would prefer to know the feedback rather than blundering on oblivious that others felt they were not achieving or delivering. The truth will set you free. As such, holding each other to account actually results in a better work environment and culture with less behind-the-back talking going on.
In the next post, I will complete this journey on how to build a functional team by removing each of the dysfunctions. The final dysfunction is the pinnacle of the triangle and relies on removing the underlying four that we have now covered.