Fun or Dysfunctional Team

Two Business Women Back to Back

Last week I heard someone say “Company XXX puts the fun in dysfunctional.”  What a sad commentary on that organization.  Have you heard anyone say your team puts the fun in dysfunctional?  If so, do you know why they are saying that about the team?  Is it because they are a quirky bunch that doesn’t fit the corporate mold but still get amazing results? Or are they truly a mess that bicker, argue and snap at each other and their customers? 

Hopefully your team is a fun and cohesive group that works well together and gets exceptional results.  The reality is that most teams have not achieved this level of performance and sadly they may not ever get there.  So if your team is not a high performing one and is dysfunctional in some way here are some ideas for what may be going on.

Paul Lencioni’s book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” is a great tool to help managers get their team on track.  According to Paul the first issue facing dysfunctional teams is lack of trust.

In today’s work environment where people are staying in jobs they dislike due to fear of the economy I’ve seen a lot of the first three issues coming from within the team.  As well, the economy seems to be driving managers to avoid addressing performance problems because they are afraid to let someone go because they may not get permission to replace them.  Fear is driving a lot of bad team behaviors.

To move your team forward you need to let go of fear.  Moving forward means stepping into unknown territory, which has risks and brings great rewards.  So take the first steps to improving your team.  It will be hard but the benefits will outweigh the pain of the process.

To get started look at how much trust you are giving to your team.  Do you allow them to act independently or are you micro-managing them?  Do you allow them to see your flaws and mistakes or do you hide those errors from sight?  If there is a lack of real trust within your team they will fail repeatedly.  This trust stems from knowing that the people around you will have your back even in the tough times, that they support you even after knowing your flaws.  As the leader you can start this cycle by allowing the team to see your flaws and mistakes and by treating mistakes as lessons not catastrophes.  Start with addressing errors or problems as opportunities to learn positive lessons and not as an opportunity to punish the wrong-doer.  When the team starts to believe you will help them learn and grow by acknowledging mistakes in a positive manner they can then start to share this with each other.

Fixing a dysfunctional team takes time and hard work.  It will not happen overnight, and there will be challenges, pain and problems along the way.  However, great teams produce extraordinary results so it is worth the effort to make the improvements.


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Filed under Leadership, Team Building

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