Executives are not working together as a team? Is the team is struggling with their situation and are unable to come to agreement on an appropriate solution to their problems? Is the team dynamics erode into naming, blaming and shaming, no one is accepting responsibility, deadlines are being missed and moral is on the decline.…
The is know as a dysfunctional team.
“If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”
To get the people in a team aligned and rowing in the same direction requires the CEO and the executives to address the following five dysfunctions of their team
Dysfunction 1: Absence of Trust
The first dysfunction is the absence of trust amongst team members. The type of trust we are talking about here is the ability of group members to show their weaknesses, to be vulnerable and open with one another. Trust is never generated in teams when the team members are not prepared to be vulnerable. Instead they feel the need to be right, to be strong and competent, so much that they are unable to be vulnerable and open with one another.
Trust requires that team members have confidence in each other intentions, that they are good and therefore have no reason to be protective and careful in the team. The when I ‘m vulnerable it will not be exploited and used against me by the team. The lack of trust amongst teams is a huge waste of time and energy as team members invest their time and energy in defensive behaviours, reluctant to ask for help and to assist others.
The key to overcoming a lack of trust is shared experiences, multiple follow – throughs and integrity. A Myers Briggs assessment or a 360 degree assessment is a good way to get the team talking about one another’s strengths and weaknesses and so become comfortable with one another.
“…teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.”
The primary role of the leader is to lead my example, be the first one to be vulnerable, and create an environment where it’s safe to be vulnerable. Building trust makes conflict possible!
Dysfunction 2: Fear of Conflict
Trust is the foundation of great teams and it’s trust that makes team conflict possible. Teams become dysfunctional when they are unable to productively deal with conflict. All meaningful relationships require productive conflict for them to grow. Healthy conflict occurs when people talk about the issue at hand avoiding personal attacks, looking for the best solution for the team. Teams tend to avoid conflict often replacing it with an artificial harmony.
“Harmony itself is good, I suppose, if it comes as a result of working through issues constantly and cycling through conflict. But if it comes only as a result of people holding back their opinions and honest concerns, then it’s a bad thing.”
We wear masks and focus on being nice to everyone. however, productive conflict is required for teams to become functional. This allows for meaningful dialogue where people are open to share, without feeling fearful of reprisal or criticism. One of the worst team dysfunctions is when you have a team of “yes men”.
Leaders need to encourage debate, support it and keep it productive. Teams who avoid conflict spend much time “off-line” never making decisions that the group can commit to. Healthy and productive teams accept that conflict is a normal part of being in a team to learn to deal with it productively.
“…meetings and movies have a lot in common…A movie, on average, runs anywhere from ninety minutes to two hours in length. Staff meetings are about the same…And yet meetings are interactive, whereas movies are not…And more importantly, movies have no real impact on our lives…. [and]…Every great movie has conflict. Without it, we just don’t care what happens to the characters.”
When working with teams a leaders need to understand the importance of conflict in teams, being careful not to try and steer the team towards premature resolution of conflict with the intention of protecting people. It’s important for leaders to help the team members to learn and develop positive conflict resolution skills. The beast way to do this is for leader to “lead by example”, modelling the appropriate behaviours, rather than trying to smooth over the conflict.
Dysfunction 3: Lack of Commitment
When teams engage in productive conflict they can confidently commit and buy-in to decisions. Commitment is a function of clarity and buy-in. Productive teams make clear decisions and are confident that they have the support from every team member. A lack of commitment usually arises from not hearing all the teams concerns before making a decision. There can be no commitment without debate. People will not buy into something when their opinions and thoughts on the matter were not included and discussed. “If they don’t weigh in, then they won’t buy in.” This is not as much about seeking consensus as it is about making sure that everyone is heard.
“The point here is that most reasonable people don’t have to get their way in a discussion. They just need to be heard, and to know that their input was considered and responded to.”
At the end of the day everyone needs to get to the point where they can say, “I may not agree with your ideas but I understand them and can support them.”
“When people don’t unload their opinions and feel like they’ve been listened to, they won’t really get on board.”
Leaders can help to facilitate commitment by reviewing all key decisions made at the end of team meetings, making responsibility and deadlines clear.
Dysfunction 4: Avoidance of Accountability
Without team commitment you cannot have accountability. If the team is to be accountable, everyone must have a clear understanding of what is expected of them.
“People aren’t going to hold each other accountable if they haven’t clearly bought in to the same plan.”
At the end of the day it’s about each team member being accountable to the team. This means that a team member never lets the team down when is comes to meeting commitments. The team needs to hold their peers responsible for achieving results and working to high standards. It’s the responsibility of each team member to hold one another accountable and accept it when others hold them accountable.
It’s often the case, that when teams are not holding one another accountable it’s usually because they’re not measuring their progress. It’s important to make clear what the team’s standards are, what needs to get done, by who and by when. Ambiguity is the enemy of accountability.
Dysfunction 5: Inattention to Results
When teams are not held accountable the team members tend to look out for their own interests, rather than the interests of the team. A healthy team places team results as the most important goal. When all team members place the team’s results first the team becomes results orientated.
“Our job is to make the results that we need to achieve so clear to everyone in this room that no one would even consider doing something purely to enhance his or her individual status or ego. Because that would diminish our ability to achieve our collective goals. We would all lose.”
Leaders need to make the teams results clear for all to see, rewarding the behaviours that contribute to the team’s results. It’s the responsibility of the leader to keep the teams focus on results.
By addressing these dysfunctions, what results is a cohesive team….
“…and imagine how members of truly cohesive teams behave:
1. They trust one another.
2. They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.
3. They commit to decisions and plans of action.
4. They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans
5. They focus on the achievement of collective results.”
Reference: Patrick Lencioni
No matter the conflict, the one thing that every party knows for sure is that:
1. there is a problem
2. it’s the other person’s or group’s fault!
Clearly, this mutually held conviction can’t be the truth, but just as clearly, every party believes it.
So how is it possible that neither party sees their part in the problem?
The technical name for this problem is “self-deception.”
In non-technical terms, it is the problem of, not knowing, and resisting the possibility, that one has a problem (or has contributed to the problem).
Resolving the conflict
This means that in every conflict situation, one or both of the parties has a two-part problem that must be overcome if the conflict is to be resolved.
1. Giving up their resistance that they might be a part of the problem
2. Recognizing their role in the problem.
Organizations are set up for conflict. This is a surprise to people who think that organizations are meant to be as cooperative as bees in a beehive.
Different functions, business units and geographic will have different priorities. Internal conflicts, be it nice or nasty, its how these conflicting priorities are resolved. Conflict is good, provided it is contained. Uncontainable conflict and open warfare are not good.
The first principle of conflict management is:
Do not take it personally; especially when it's meant to be personal. This is easy to say but hard to do.
The natural reaction to conflict is to fight or flight: Punching a work colleague or running away is not good tactics but the fear is real. Fear stands for:
Engage the enemy emotionally.
Argue against all-comers
Retaliate, and repudiate reason.
Remove the F from fear and we have ear.
Agree the problem
Resolve the way forward.
Empathize: Listen past the bluster and blame. Listen past the emotion. Let the person talk. Listen actively to show the person you understand. Do not try and put your own point of view forward or justify yourself, it will only cause more conflict. and my personal failing is to try to fight emotion with logic.
Agree the problem: Try to focus on the actions, outcomes and benefits desired. This is where listening moves from paraphrasing to asking questions:
- "So what we need to achieve is...?"
-"So where do we need to get to by next week/Month?"
-"What does the customer want as a solution?"
Resolve the way forward: Once you have all calmed down and agreed the situation and the problem, then the way forward is often clear. Formally agree the next steps forward.
If your in conflict it means that someone thinks you are wrong. In many organizations, the standard operating procedure at this point is:
This needs courage and strength that few people have and it needs to be done right.
The word "Sorry" hardly exists in the corporate language. Be aware that when people are angry they are incapable of listening. You will often need to repeat the apology several times. This can be increasingly frustration because it feels like your apologizes are been rejected. Be aware they may not be able to listen past there emotions.
You will need to act fast. Get the apology out early: the longer things are left to fester, the worse they become.
Two little words. Practice them.
You can expand on them once you get the hang of these two little words.
"I'm sorry, you where right, I was wrong"
These 7 little words in the right situation could be the most powerful moments of your career.