Teamwork, perhaps today stands to be the most overused and misunderstood corporate term. Often described as a skill, in our experience, teamwork has revealed itself as a choice. A disciplined choice taken consciously and consistently over and over again by a group of people, united by a shared collective vision.
You may ask - how can ‘teamwork’ be a choice?
The answer is simple. Every skill that adds to the effectiveness of a team’s ‘teamwork’ effectiveness can be taught or learnt. However, what it all comes down to is the choice every individual within the team makes - whether to implement and utilise these skills, or not.
When applied efficiently, they can contribute toward making their team perform better, and achieve greater success.
So, how can leaders ensure that their team members choose ‘teamwork’ every time? For a leader to become transformational, they need to inspire their teams to work towards a singular vision. And, according to Patrick Lencioni, in his book ‘5 Dysfunctions Of A Team,’ this is only possible when the leaders work toward eliminating the 5 most prevalent behavioural dysfunctions within a team.
What are these 5 dysfunctions? And how can leaders help eliminate them?
Absence Of Trust
There are 2 types of ‘trust’ that can be found and built among colleagues. The one is based on the ability to predict someone’s actions based on the time spent together in close proximity. However, the trust in question, here, is the one built on shared vulnerability.
It’s the ability to express vulnerability in front of your leader and other team members, knowing that it’s safe to do so. This trust is harder to build, and results in extremely strong interpersonal team bonds. Trust based on vulnerability allows team members to admit to their mistakes and openly ask for help. This can further help with improved collaboration, and promote transparency across the organisation.
On the other hand, teams struggling with the absence of trust often face problems like -
- They shy away from openly admitting mistakes
- Silos are formed within the team’s structure
- People don’t come forward to help accomplish tasks beyond their scope of responsibility
- Perception management takes the front seat, among many others.
The key to overcoming this dysfunction is for leaders to encourage and embrace openness, vulnerability, and honest conversations. A team will always emulate the behaviour of their leader. Creating a safe space for the employees not only enriches the interpersonal trust, but also allows for healthy conflicts.
Fear Of Conflict
Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict - alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.
- Dorothy Thompson
Teams that struggle with initiating and resolving conflict in a productive manner often fail to achieve growth or embrace innovation. Perception management can hinder honest conversation and passionate debates over things that truly do matter.
Such teams may present the image of perfect harmony, but they are more divided than others. This false sense of harmony can turn the entire team complacent and prevent growth in any form or manner.
It is thus important for the team to engage in passionate healthy debates and discussions. Conflicts can be a great tool for uncovering chinks in the seemingly strong armour. A team of ‘Yes! Men’ can never enable transformational leadership.
Lack Of Commitment
Healthy conflicts allow teams to then fully commit to the outcomes. This is because they feel heard, and their contribution means something in the larger scheme of things.
Whereas a team that has members who don’t feel committed to the organisation's vision or even decisions taken on a daily basis are more likely to underperform. Their risk appetite goes down, and they often take a step back from taking on accountability.
At the same time, a lack of clarity can bring down the level of commitment of the team towards any and every organisational decision. Furthermore, a lack of commitment on the team’s part can have far-reaching effects, including but not limited to -
- Perceived ambiguity about plans and overall direction
- Lost opportunities due to a lack of communication flow and red tape hassle
- Redundant meetings and discussions
- A widespread fear of failure
Avoidance Of Accountability
Like the infamous ‘Butterfly effect,’ a lack of commitment will allow team members to become slack and shy away from holding themselves, and each other, accountable.
And a lack of accountability can prove fatal for an organisation's overall growth. A singular vision / purpose is important for team members to feel connected and committed towards the organisation. And when this collective sense of working towards the same goal is lacking, employees can feel disconnected not just from their work, but also from the rest of the team and their work.
A lack of accountability manifests itself in multiple ways, like -
- Resentment towards team members with different standards of performance
- Missed deadlines & multiple delays
- TLs coming under undue pressure to maintain discipline among the ranks
Inattention to Results
A lack of accountability can further hamper the team’s overall productivity. This is because it takes the collective focus away from the overall results. A lack of shared accountability allows for the formation of silos, and individual agendas taking the forefront.
Such fragmented teams often end up being overall uproductive, with massive strain on the available resources and funds. They also face a host of other challenges, like -
- Losing to other competitors often
- A general sense of disassociation with the organisation
- No collective purpose
- Stagnated growth
High performance employees require not just financial motivation, but also an environment that allows them to fully tap into their potential. Such work culture can only be effectively implemented when the said dysfunctions are actively eliminated and watched out for.