Team Dysfunction – Part 2

Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team suggests that the foundational dysfunction in a team is that of an absence of trust.  The second, however, is built upon it and is a fear of conflict.

Do you attend boring meetings or find people a little superficial?  Chances are that they don’t trust each other enough to be open and honest to the point of engaging in positive conflict.  Preserving relationships is a key here, since they can’t break down over the conflict we have to have, but the artificial harmony of conflict-free teams is not the higher ideal.

If people can’t debate robustly in teams and then seek consensus (where everyone is heard even if they don’t agree), then the false peace not only conceals tensions, but likely pushes them to unhealthy places (“The meeting being over, the members adjourned to the carpark to say what they really felt”).

Solving this need a willingness to engage in it and to ‘mine’ it.  It also needs people to agree on a process whereby no-one will be allowed to retreat from the fight or to get personal.  Leaders need to intervene when people are subjected to harm, but also need to be willing to involve themselves in conflict and not to preserve reputations and save time at the expense of team growth.

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