Team Dynamics Matter
Teamwork has, without question, become the most essential building block in growing companies that strive to reach their full potential. As crucial as effective team building is, team dynamics can easily be the most challenging obstacle leaders must overcome to achieve the desired results.
Full disclosure: this article borrows heavily from the ideas of Patrick Lencioni and his best-selling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. It is highly recommended reading in our organization and effectively breaks down the five biggest stumbling blocks in team building. We would suggest you pick up a copy for yourself, so we won’t spoil the whole book for you here. Instead, we’ll just focus on the first two dysfunctions Lencioni breaks down.
It’s a Matter of Trust
Practically every relationship and interaction you have in life really comes down to one thing – trust. Nothing will break down a team quicker or more effectively than the absence of trust. If your team doesn’t trust each other, they have no foundation on which to build anything. If your team doesn’t trust you, they don’t know how you will react to them being blatantly candid and challenging your ideas.
Without trust, we have no honest communication, no productive exchanges and no free-flowing ideas. People either just go along to get along or stay silent. Passive abstinence from authentic group participation tends to atrophy any sense of compassion, purpose or growth. Things start to fall apart. With a lack of trust comes a lack of commitment. You have no honest buy-in to whatever you are selling. It’s a disaster.
Eventually, the truth may seep out, and you start to hear things like, “Well, I thought it was a bad idea from the start,” followed by, “What? Why didn’t you speak up?” The answer is, of course, because the team doesn’t trust each other. Each team member has to feel valued, respected and appreciated if you are to build trust. The team dynamic must convey safety, civility and a sense of parity in the way it relates to contributions and participation.
The Destructive Power of Fear
According to Lencioni, the second most destructive dysfunction in team dynamics is the fear of conflict. This is really just an extension or manifestation of the original trust issue. If the desire to preserve team harmony at all costs – even at the peril of honest exchange and discourse – becomes the ultimate objective, then productive ideological conflict becomes stifled at best and non-existent at worst. Fear is a sneaky one. It can creep its way into a seemingly well-oiled machine and quickly undermine an otherwise effective and harmonious team.
Unrelated personal circumstances may cause an abrupt personality change in a team member causing confusion, suspicion and doubt among the rest of the team. This is the old “What’s up with Gary?” syndrome. Introducing a new team member may suddenly suppress the usual openness of some team members who need time to feel out and trust the new addition. The list goes on and on. It takes a very skilled leader with a sensitive radar to monitor and resolve these situations as they arise, keeping the team headed in the right direction and on the desired path to success.
Finding Teaming Solutions
So, if your team is not performing well and you are not getting the desired results, these first two concepts are a great place to start. And we encourage you to check out the rest of the dysfunction pyramid presented by Mr. Lencioni in his book and see how it may apply to your situation and what tweaks you may need to make. It is a brief, but enjoyable read and will be well worth your time.