Building a successful team
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is a book by Patrick Lencioni that deals with team dynamics and how to create and functional and well-working team.
According to Lencioni, the first major dysfunction in many teams is the lack of open communication. He claims that trust is only created when people can talk about their strengths and weaknesses in an honest manner. Knowing your own and your team’s strengths is essential for trust but Lencioni also warns of the danger of defining individual team members by not a lot of aspects.
The second dysfunction in teams according to Lencioni is the lack of conflict and forced harmony. He claims that conflicts are important in order to further creative thinking. He claims that conflicts are always presenting opportunities and potentials and should not be avoided but actually encouraged. He also says that conflicts do not necessarily need to be solved.
Lencioni describes the third dysfunction of a team as a lack of commitment by individuals. He says that individuals should fully commit to the team even if they are not always fully convinced by the project and he also says that individual interest cannot always be respected. People need to take responsibility, Lencioni links all of this to people’s values and motives.
The fourth dysfunction described by Lencioni is low standards. He says that people should not just focus on their own work but constantly provide feedback to each other, thereby taking responsibility for the whole team.
The fifth and last dysfunction described in the book is the aspect of some people who want to save their own position in a team. Lencioni claims that some people prefer to achieve a high rank instead of achieving company goals. To remedy this, he suggests that companies have clear and defined goals. He says that this is one of the most difficult aspects of management and that team hierarchies often interfere with company success.
In my opinion, Lencioni describes common dysfunctions very well. However, some of his suggestions could be improved, especially for young startup companies. In my opinion, it is not a good idea to take too many tests to identify strengths and weaknesses since figuring these things out is more of a process than a one-time event. People should continuously test themselves to figure out their strengths and weaknesses and see if they develop new strengths over time. They should be allowed to make mistakes and learn from them.
Furthermore, I agree that conflict is good to some extent, but excessive conflict will hinder the creative process as well and will lead to an overall bad climate in a team. Conflicts should be resolved maturely and respectfully wherever possible, and compromises might be an option in some cases.
I agree with Lencioni’s assessment that commitment is very important. However, I also believe that individuals cannot be effective members of a team if all of their norms and values are different from the team’s. Some things, like personal career success, might not be compatible with the team goals and if an individual will place these goals over the team’s well-being, it will only serve to hurt the team. This is also applicable to what Lencioni said about team hierarchies. Setting very clear goals and monitoring them frequently might help to resolve this issue, however, sometimes individuals are just not compatible with a team.
Furthermore, taking responsibility for your own work and that of your teammates might be one of the most important aspects of team work. Feedback and help will improve the team’s overall quality of work, and when done respectfully, serves to make more connections between team members. I fully believe that this is the essence of team work and helps to make any team stronger.