Alan Chambers photo

By Alan Chambers, ArcTree Managing Director

One of  my clients told me a while ago about one of the first companies she ever worked for in a sales role, which had a serious problem with its people. She thought that the fact that the CEO was focused on individual results, rewarding those who achieved at the expense of others, most likely contributed. People were also worried about redundancies and keen to prove their individual worth, which do doubt played a large part as well.

She told me how, when working in teams for this organisation, most people had their own agendas. More often than not, when they were given a project, people sat in meetings quietly, most likely planning how they would achieve a few quick wins for themselves and raise their profile with management. They didn’t share strategic information with each other because it could help others get ahead at our own expense. And they certainly didn’t admit it if they didn’t know something because that would be showing weakness in front of their competition.

Not surprisingly, that business didn’t make it through the last major recession. While a few people were still meeting their targets, a lack of commitment to the organisation’s goals, the hoarding of valuable knowledge and insight about competitors, and the lack of trust and transparency across the business ultimately led to lost revenue and eventual insolvency.

It reminded me of the invaluable lessons in Patrick Lencioni’s The 5 dysfunctions of a team. Lencioni, leadership and organisational health expert and founder of The Table Group, talks about how the way teams interact and work with each other has critical results for your business.

Lencioni’s model looks at 5 levels of dysfunction that can plague many teams, and prevent them from working together effectively for the good of the business. At the very core, teams who don’t trust each other won’t be comfortable being vulnerable around each other, or willing to admit they don’t have all the answers. When teams lack trust, they’ll also be unwilling to be open and honest with each other, and express their opinions freely for fear of conflict.

In turn, this means they’ll be less willing to commit to goals or buy in to decisions, because they don’t feel comfortable expressing their ideas. This leads to a lack of accountability, since people don’t want to be responsible for results and won’t hold others to their commitments because they want to avoid conflict. It’s a short step from there to inattention to results: people will be reluctant to seek results for the team and more concerned about their individual achievements and accomplishments.

I believe Lencioni’s model is an invaluable tool in ensuring your teams have the environment and tools they need to stay on track and work together effectively to achieve the results your business needs. We’ve put this infographic together to remind you of these five factors to make sure they stay front of mind when leading your teams.

5 dysfunctions of a team infographic about absence of trust

Try a free evaluation for two of your employees to identify and address performance gaps that could be holding them back.