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5 Dysfunctions of a team

Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Results

This will be part of a 5-part series about the five common dysfunctions of a team to create more awareness on common issues and explore potential solutions. In case you’re not familiar with the framework, this book was written by Patrick Lencioni, founder and president of The Table Group (a firm that has been helping leaders improve their organizational health since 1997). This framework has stood the test of time and highlights important learnings for leaders in the workplace now more than ever.

The third pillar of the 5 dysfunctions is Inattention to Results at work.

What is Inattention to Results? According to Lencioni, this dysfunction is “when members of a team are more concerned about other things than the overall goals of the team.”

Most of the time, those other things are individual status and leaders serving their own needs over the needs of the broader team. This is highly related to the previous dysfunction, which is a lack of Accountability. Teams and individuals who aren’t accountable for their contributions at work are more likely to optimize for something other than collective goals.

The other thing can also be about being associated with a team or organization without delivering results. For example, being part of an inspiring start-up is enough to keep people satisfied without accountability. This can be thought of as “team status” and altruistic or purpose-driven organizations tend to fall prey to this more than others because employees view success as being associated with the organization itself.

Here’s How Inattention to Results at Work Can Feel:

  • Egos rule: Leaders and employees prioritize their personal reputation and status over the team’s goals, making trade-offs that ultimately satisfy their ego. Without being held accountable for team and business results, these individuals are optimizing for their own success with little consequence.
  • No Definition of Team Success: Team members aren’t clear on what success looks like for their team and what winning together means.
  • Resourcing Decisions Aren’t Optimal. Resources and investment decisions in an environment with low attention to results tends to misattribute where to invest for the good of the broader company’s goals.

Ways to Improve Inattention to Results at Work:

  • Be clear on expectations. Be clear about expectations for team and business success and reinforce the messaging consistently.
  • Reward good behavior. Create results-based rewards that demonstrate a commitment to rewarding behavior that is in service of collective team and business goals.
  • Role-model being results-driven. If team members don’t think their leader is acting on behalf of the common good, they will see that as permission for them to do the same.

Thank you for joining me for this short series on the five dysfunctions of teams. I hope that this helped you better understand these dysfunctions and, more importantly, how to practice ways of resolving these issues in your teams.

Previous Post on Avoidance of Accountability

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