10/30/2014

Absence of Trust Vs. Trusting Teams


Members of Teams with an Absence of Trust:
  • Conceal their weaknesses and mistakes from one another
  • Hesitate to ask for help or provide constructive feedback
  • Hesitate to offer help outside their own areas of responsibility
  • Jump to conclusions about the intentions and aptitudes of others without attempting to clarify them
  • Fail to recognize and tap into one another's skills and experiences
  • Waste time and energy managing their behaviors for effect
  • Hold grudges
  • Dread meetings and find reasons to avoid spending time together

Members of Trusting Teams:

  • Admit weaknesses and mistakes
  • Ask for help
  • Accept questions and input about their areas of responsibility
  • Give one another the benefit of the doubt before arriving at a negative conclusion
  • Take risks in offering feedback and assistance
  • Appreciate and tap into one another's skills and experiences
  • Focus time and energy on important issues, not politics
  • Offer and accept apologies without hesitation
  • Look forward to meetings and other oppourtunities to work as a group
5 Dysfunctions of a Team:
  1. Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust

    The fear of being vulnerable with team members prevents the building of trust within the team.
  2. Dysfunction #2: Fear of Conflict

    The desire to preserve artificial harmony stifles the occurrence of productive ideological conflict.
  3. Dysfunction #3: Lack of Commitment

    The lack of clarity or buy-in prevents team members from making decisions they will stick to.
  4. Dysfunction #4: Avoidance of Accountability

    The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding one another accountable.
  5. Dysfunction #5: Inattention to Results

    The pursuit of individual goals and personal status erodes the focus on collective success.

Characteristics of High Performing Teams

Teams willing to address the five dysfunctions can experience the following benefits. High performing, cohesive teams:

  • Are comfortable asking for help, admitting mistakes and limitations and take risks offering feedback
  • Tap into one another's skills and experiences
  • Avoid wasting time talking about the wrong issues and revisiting the same topics over and over again because of lack of buy-in
  • Make higher quality decisions and accomplish more in less time and fewer resources
  • Put critical topics on the table and have lively meetings
  • Align the team around common objectives
  • Retain star employees

Conquer Team Dysfunction.

Addressing the Dysfunctions. To begin improving your team and to better understand the level of dysfunction you are facing, ask yourself these simple questions:
  • Do team members openly and readily disclose their opinions?
  • Are team meetings compelling and productive?
  • Does the team come to decisions quickly and avoid getting bogged down by consensus?
  • Do team members confront one another about their shortcomings?
  • Do team members sacrifice their own interests for the good of the team?
The Dysfunctions

Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust

This occurs when team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with one another and are unwilling to admit their mistakes, weaknesses or needs for help. Without a certain comfort level among team members, a foundation of trust is impossible.

Dysfunction #2: Fear of Conflict
Teams that are lacking on trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate about key issues, causing situations where team conflict can easily turn into veiled discussions and back channel comments. In a work setting where team members do not openly air their opinions, inferior decisions are the result.

Dysfunction #3: Lack of Commitment
Without conflict, it is difficult for team members to commit to decisions, creating an environment
where ambiguity prevails. Lack of direction and commitment can make employees, particularly star employees, disgruntled.

Dysfunction #4: Avoidance of Accountability
When teams don't commit to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven individuals
hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that may seem counterproductive to the overall good of the team.

Dysfunction #5: Inattention to Results
Team members naturally tend to put their own needs (ego, career development, recognition, etc.) ahead of the collective goals of the team when individuals aren't held accountable. If a team has lost sight of the need for achievement, the business ultimately suffers.

The Rewards
Striving to create a functional, cohesive team is one of the few remaining competitive advantages available to any organization looking for a powerful point of differentiation. Functional teams avoid wasting time talking about the wrong issues and revisiting the same topics over and over again because of lack of buy-in. Functional teams also make higher quality decisions and accomplish more in less time and with less distraction and frustration. Additionally, "A" players rarely leave organizations where they are part of a cohesive team.

Successful teamwork is not about mastering subtle, sophisticated theories, but rather about
embracing common sense with uncommon levels of discipline and persistence. Ironically, teams
succeed because they are exceedingly human. By acknowledging the imperfections of their
humanity, members of functional teams overcome the natural tendencies that make teamwork so elusive.