The first reason is that you simply do not trust each other. In his breakthrough work, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” Patrick Lencioni wrote that the absence of trust is the biggest reason teams do not work well together. This is because we are not often trained to be vulnerable and to trust the people we work with. This very foundation of human behavior means that everything else we try to do is built on a weak foundation.
The second dysfunction is fear of conflict. Again, we were taught in kindergarten that it is most important for everyone to get along. Even if that means holding back on contrary views. If we don’t trust each other, we cannot have intelligent debate about options to solving problems. This hurts the team because we do not bring our best ideas to the table.
This leads to a lack of commitment. Decisions that are made are not ‘bought into’ by each individual. That leads to ambiguity in achieving goals. If we don’t agree, we are free to head in different directions. And that allows us to wait for the idea that we did not buy into to fail.
His fourth principle is avoidance of accountability. Can you see the pyramid being built? We don’t trust each other, so we don’t have a healthy discussion. We walked out doing our own thing. And now, no one holds the other’s feet to the fire.
At the top of the pyramid is inattention to results. The first four dysfunctions mean that we don’t need to focus on outcomes because – we never bought in to the decision in the first place.
Lencioni’s book was a New York Times best seller and is still in print. It makes for great reading.
If your organization is struggling to establish good objectives and to meet them, you probably suffer from two or more of these dysfunctions.
It can be fixed.
The first step is to hold a team meeting to lay out why things aren’t working. Then, it’s important to tackle these one at a time. For teams to be effective we must establish trust. Without trust we will never work well together. With trust, healthy dialogue is easier. The focus then becomes making sure everyone commits to group objectives. And then we must be accountable to each other to accomplish these objectives.
These changes lead to positive results. You will have measures that you can focus on and review on a regular basis. This is most critical for executive teams. If the executive team doesn’t work well together, how can you expect the whole company to understand where you are going?
This is a process that we lead many organizations through. If you would like to know more, please feel free to contact us at Lighthouse Advisors.
Cruz is president of Lighthouse Advisors LLC in Queensbury.