I wonder how many of you recognize traits like these on your own team(s), past or present. I can certainly point to these as being core reasons various teams I’ve been on or led have been ineffective and unsuccessful. The book seems like a good, short read, too.
Dysfunction One – Absence of Trust
When team members do not trust one another, they are unwilling to be vulnerable within the team. It is impossible for a team to build a foundation for trust when team members are not genuinely open about their mistakes and weaknesses.
Dysfunction Two – Fear of Conflict
Failure to build trust sets the stage for the second dysfunction. Teams without trust are unable to engage in passionate debate about ideas. Instead, they are guarded in their comments and resort to discussions that mask their true feelings.
Dysfunction Three – Lack of Commitment
Teams that do not engage in healthy conflict will suffer from the third dysfunction. Because they do not openly surface their true opinions or engage in open debate, team members will rarely commit to team decisions, though they may feign agreement in order to avoid controversy or conflict.
Dysfunction Four – Avoidance of Accountability
A lack of commitment creates an atmosphere where team members do not hold one another accountable. Because there is no commitment to a clear action plan, team members hesitate to hold one another accountable on actions and behaviors that are contrary to the good of the team.
Dysfunction Five – Inattention to Results
The lack of accountability makes it possible for people to put their own needs above the team’s goals. Team members will focus on their own career goals or recognition for their departments to the detriment of the team.
A weakness in any one area can cause teamwork to deteriorate. The model is easy to understand, and yet can be difficult to practice because it requires high levels of discipline and persistence.