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Manager’s Checkup: Spotting team dysfunctions

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in Leaders & Managers,Team Building

"Genuine teamwork in most orga­nizations remains as elusive as it has ever been." That's what consul­tant and best-selling author Patrick Lencioni says in his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. As the title suggests, Lencioni identifies five "natural but dangerous pitfalls" that stand in the way of team success. Are these problems on your team? Find out with this assessment.

For each item, rate your team from 1 ("rarely") to 5 ("often"):

1. Team members openly admit their weaknesses and mistakes.

2. Team members know about one another's personal lives and are comfortable discussing them.

3. Team members are passionate and unguarded in their discussion of issues.

4. During team meetings, the most important—and difficult—issues are put on the table to be resolved.

5. Team members know what their peers are working on and how they contribute to the collective good of the team.

6. Team members end discussions with clear and specific resolutions and calls to action.

7. Team members call out one another's deficiencies or unproduc­tive behaviors.

8. Team members are deeply con­cerned about the prospect of letting down their peers.

9. Morale is significantly affected by the failure to achieve team goals.

10. Team members are slow to seek credit for their own contributions, but quick to point out those of others.

What do your answers mean?

Higher scores are better. Add up your scores for each pair of state­ments above (1 and 2, 3 and 4, and so on). If the total is less than 6, you are probably in the danger zone, according to Lencioni, on one of the five dysfunctions, which relate to each other as follows:

1 and 2. Absence of trust. "Team members who are not genuinely open with one another ... make it impos­sible to build a foundation for trust."

3 and 4. Fear of conflict. A lack of trust, says Lencioni, sets the stage for this dysfunction, in which team members "resort to veiled discus­sions and guarded comments."

5 and 6. Lack of commitment. Without healthy conflict, Lencioni writes, "team members rarely, if ever, buy in and commit to decisions."

7 and 8. Avoidance of account­ability. The lack of commitment makes "even the most focused and driven people ... hesitate to call their peers" on unproductive actions.

9 and 10. Inattention to results. Without accountability, "team mem­bers put their individual needs ... above the collective goals of the team."

As you can see, Lencioni's model does not view each of the five dys­functions in isolation. "Like a chain with just one link broken, teamwork deteriorates if even a single dysfunc­tion is allowed to flourish."

If you found this assessment useful, you may also be interested in Lencioni's book Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars, which looks at "destroying the barriers that turn colleagues into com­petitors."

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