Tip of the Week – 5 things to think about when working with a dysfunctional team

Tips and Tricks


I was fortunate enough to attend a CPD workshop put on by Wiley. This was based around the highly acclaimed book by Lencioni entitled, “The five dysfunctions of a team”. Many of the plenary discussions were common sense and for an OD professional helps in assimilating a strategy for senior managers and board.

Lencioni suggests that when we think about how a team can derail they usually exhibit low attributes in some elements of the following categories.

  1. Trust
  2. Conflict
  3. Commitment
  4. Accountability
  5. Results

At its core, Lencioni suggests that Trust is about displaying vulnerability and providing a supporting environment where mistakes are learnt from and moved forward. Team members are not afraid of conflict, and in fact relish good feedback on suggestions.

We have all experienced projects that we have been told to deliver and have experienced projects that we have been explicitly involved in the design phase. The increased involvement engenders a positive commitment to the project. We understand and we buy in to the objectives and outcomes, providing an increase in effort to ensure that the project generates amazing results.

The buy in phase and involvement in the design helps in forming a psychological contract between all that are involved. This ‘contract’ is unwritten and unsaid but does underwrite the accountability that we share and feel. This sniper focus on the result and purpose ensures that we achieve better outcomes.

Ok – I have summarised a good book and presentation into a few sentences, but the suggestions are clear.

  • Challenge yourself and your team.
  • Listen to the feedback and act on providing space to increase your team capability on delivering against these five areas of dysfunction
  • Actively look for patterns that are not ‘useful’, Eg. Remove blame culture and celebrate the improvements that can be made by analysing failures.