Experiences and thoughts from teamwork and personal behaviour based on the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
The whole team of ours decided to read the 5 dysfunctions of a team by Patrick Lencioni (Lencioni, 2002) in the beginning of our journey in Proakatemia. I wanted to write this essay now after 3 months as I have had time to take and see the learnings in practice. In this essay I write about my own experiences and thoughts about the topics and learnings of the book that I have remarked in our team and my personal behaviour.
Lencioni writes about the 5 dysfunctions in a storytelling way with practical examples which makes it easy to understand and interesting to read. It is a great book for everyone despite the fact where they work at or in what kind of teams. It can also give insights to one´s personal relationships and communication.
When starting the journey in Proakatemia, I already had a lot of experience of teamwork. What surprised me was that the I did not know so much about efficient teamwork before. I had worked in many different teams, overcame conflicts and celebrated success but never thought the theory of teamwork properly. Usually when facing a conflict, I thought it was because I did not get along with my teammate or that they did not understand the situation. I only started to realise the importance of my own behaviour and for me that was mind changing. I understand now that I have a lot to do in order to be the teammate that I want to be, but I believe that already acknowledging these areas of improvements is a good start.
When a team starts to work together, usually the first days or weeks are filled with excitement and eagerness towards work. The planning phase is usually the most exciting, when big plans and ideas are being discussed and everything seems clear. Sometimes the ideas had in excitement are left in the air and no clear plan is made. If there are no tasks delegated nor project manager decided, might be that the idea does not lead anywhere. If a project is not planned thoroughly it might create conflicts later. This also happened in our team, but luckily we were able to discuss about the mistakes made and learned from those.
- Absence of trust
If team members cannot show their weaknesses and share vulnerability it is hard to trust each other. When not being honest to others and trying to hide the weaknesses, it creates the atmosphere of fear. No mistakes are allowed and help is not asked. It is impossible to work efficiently together if there is no trust between the members of a team. Trust is the fundament of a good team and without it is hard to succeed. When team members feel connected and familiar with each other, they perform better (Abbas & Nawaz, 2019)
For me personally, it takes a long time to completely trust others. Even though I am pretty open and share many personal things, I do not trust others until they have showed it with their action and behaviour. It is hard to tell honest opinions when not being sure how it will be understood and if it will be used against you one day.
In our team trust has built slowly and everyone has been honest about the weaknesses. The way I see it is that we have a good base to start from, but still would have a lot of work making sure that everyone trusts each other and can be honest about everything.
- Fear of conflict
If there is no trust between team members and no one actually know one another, conflict might be the grey area where no one wants to step into. Instead of discussing honestly about opinions and actions, everyone gets frustrated inside their heads and starts piling up frustration. Faked harmony in the team is transparent for everyone and makes the atmosphere worse. When there is trust between members, conflicts can be discussed openly without fear of hurting others. This makes the work more passionate and productive.
I am one of those persons who would not want to say anything that creates a conflict. Earlier I have preferred staying quiet rather than clarify or fix things bothering me. It is still not easy to talk honestly but now I understand the value of conflicts and it makes it easier to gather to courage to speak up.
Luckily, we have brave persons in our team and important matters are usually brought up and discussed. I think since we all have such a different background and we have had to learn how to work with different people that it makes it easier for us to have difficult conversations. There is still room for improvement and I believe if we would have more time to work together, we would improve a lot in conflict conversations.
- Lack of commitment
When matters are not clearly discussed, it leaves members pondering the thoughts of others. When the common goal is not clear, commitment cannot be expected from the team. If team members feel that individual opinions are not heard or respected it affects to the motivation.
I find it hard to be motivated if I feel that I cannot express my opinions honestly. It leads to frustration and does not motivate to work towards the goal of the project. If I do not feel that the leader is being fair and the atmosphere is good, it is impossible to stay genuinely motivated.
The lack of commitment is hard to defeat if the two first topics are not functioning in a team. I believe that for our team, this is something we still need to work on in order to success better. Often the plans we make are quite vague and no specific steps are decided. This leads to team members not participating since the tasks or the goal of the project is not clear. With better planning and honest conversations this could be improved.
- Avoidance of accountability
When there is no clear plan or even a project manager, no one can be held accountable for the success or failure of the project. This might lead to conflicts when something goes wrong, but no one takes responsibility of it. When there are no commitment people does not want to be responsible about anything. Having clear roles, tasks and goals makes it easier to know what to do and who is accountable of what.
I can admit that if there is no clear task to do, often I do nothing. This is because it is easier to do nothing than start figuring out from the beginning what has been done and what still needs to be done. It takes a lot of time and effort and if motivation towards the project is not so big it is easier to do nothing.
Taking responsibility of actions acquires courage and showing vulnerability. In my opinion, our team does this well and everyone is brave enough to take responsibilities and admit if they have not fulfilled them. However, dividing responsibility areas could be done better.
- Inattention to results
If the goal of the team is not clear and team members are not taking accountability of team´s matters, it is hard to put team´s needs before individuals´. In order to succeed as a team, everyone should consider team´s result as the most important one. If there is no trust, open discussions, commitment or accountability, the performance of the team is not of great importance to individuals.
If I am not motivated towards something, I put my own needs in front of it. It is not how team members should behave and I understand that for successful team the common results should be everyone´s priority.
Since our team has and will spent so little time in Proakatemia, I have noticed that the results of the team are not so important for everyone. After we changed to remote work because of the world´s situation, it could be seen that not everyone was likely motivated towards the team anymore. I also lost some of my motivation and had to think again what I want to achieve from Proakatemia.
Although the time we have had as a team is not long, I feel that we already have achieved a lot and learned the basics of teamwork. We have had honest conversations and everyone has stepped outside of their comfort zone at least once. There is still much more to learn but I feel that we have encouraged each other to improve and tried to make the best out of these 5 moths we have in Proakatemia. These learnings will definitely help later in different phases of life, both personal and career-wise.
Abbas, G.;& Nawaz, A. (December 2019). LINKING EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION WITH TEAMWORK-SPIRIT: THE INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL SKILLS AND SELF-CONFIDENCE. Gomal University Journal of Research., ss. Vol. 35 Issue 2, p87-97. 11p. 9 Charts.
Lencioni, P. (2002). The Five Dysfunctions of a Team : A Leadership Fable. New York, United States: John Wiley & Sons Inc.