Team Effectiveness

Posted by | January 13, 2012 | Other Blog Posts | No Comments


Nobody’s perfect.  Human beings are fallible.  This is a fact of life so when we throw several human beings together and instantly call them a “team”, that’s a bit unfair.  Get teamwork right, and you can dominate any work task, market, industry.  However, such a prize requires much skill.  This model explains one approach to evaluate why things go wrong, there are many in existence.

This is about the root causes of politics and dysfunction on teams, and it offers some tools for overcoming them.

Best Advice Lencioni gives:

If you are a leader, start by ensuring your teams trust one another and are comfortable in open conflict.  There is no substitute for trust. The technique uses fables to illustrate points and the weighting of each dysfunction is relative.

Enabling a team to be to be functional and cohesive requires levels of courage and discipline that appears to be beyond some.  Addressing these dysfunctions starts with 5 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 finest teams/organisations can answer “yes” to all these questions.  If no, then address each of the 5 dysfunctions one by one. The prize of getting this right?

  • Avoidance of wasted time (talking about wrong issues over and over again)
  • Higher quality decision-making;
  • More accomplished in less time with less distraction and frustration;
  • Retention of star players – they don’t like to leave “excellent” teams!

Top Tips:

This is about embracing common sense not sophisticated theory.   Watch the YouTube video referenced overleaf.  This is similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs but at a team not individual level.  Goals and goal setting activities set standards for accountability.  Mutual trust and open communication are the foundation stones. Personal histories build trust and spending time together is invaluable for getting things done.  Communicate often and openly.   It takes time to mature into a top team.  Leadership is highly relational.  Talent is not enough!

 “A single twig breaks, but a bundle of twigs is strong” Chief Tecumseh (supposedly)

 Check out the technique on You Tube via:  and then check below to see what sort of team you currently belong to.  You might get a surprise!




Absence of Trust:

  • Conceals weaknesses and mistakes
  • Hesitates to ask for help or offer constructive criticism
  • Holds grudges
  • Dreads meetings
  • Finds reasons to avoid spending time together
Trusting Teams:

  • Admits weaknesses and mistakes
  • Asks for help
  • Accepts questions and input about their areas
  • Gives the benefit of the doubt
  • Focuses on results not politics
  • Offers and accepts apologies without hesitation
  • Looks forward to meetings and other opportunities to work together
Fear of Conflict:

  • Boring team meetings
  • Politics and personal attacks are routine
  • Controversial topics are ignored
  • Time is wasted posturing and managing personal risk
Healthy Conflict:

  • Meetings are lively and interesting
  • Ideals of all team members are extracted and exploited
  • Real problems are solved quickly
  • Politics is minimal
  • Critical topics are tabled for discussion
Failure to Commit:

  • There is ambiguity amongst the team about direction and priorities
  • Windows of opportunity close due to excessive analysis and unnecessary delay
  • Air of lack of confidence and fear of failure
  • Discussions and decisions are revisited time and again
  • Second-guessing is evident
Strong Commitments:

  • Clarity of direction and priorities is real
  • Entire team aligned around common objectives
  • Learning from mistakes is evident
  • Opportunities are taken early
  • Forward movement is without hesitation by all
  • Changes in direction are not guilt laden
Avoiding Accountability:

  • There is resentment amongst team members for differing standards of performance being allowed
  • Encourages mediocrity
  • Deadlines are missed
  • Team leader has  undue burden as sole source of discipline
Effective Accountability:

  • Poor performers feel pressure to improve
  • Potential problems identified quickly through peer challenge without hesitation
  • Respect is evident through common standards
  • Performance management is not bureaucratic
Not Focussed on Results:

  • Fails to grow
  • Rarely beats other teams in same circs
  • Loses goal oriented colleagues
  • Focus on own careers and individual goals
  • Easily distracted
Collective Results:

  • Retains goal oriented members
  • Minimal individualistic behaviour
  • Enjoys success, suffers failure acutely
  • Individuals subjugate own goals/interests for good of the team
  • Avoids distractions
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Sharon Davidson
Organisational development professional specialising in personal, team and whole organisation improvement. Full range of OD tools and techniques available including: Belbin team role analysis; learning style inventories; 360 degree feedback; cultural assessments; personality psychometrics; strategic planning and workshop facilitation. (This list is not exhaustive!)

Improvement is everyone's concern: +44 1550 720902 will start that process today.

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