Dysfunctional Teams Are The Norm

By now you have, I hope, understood that to become a successful entrepreneur, you do not need to know everything. You need a team that can together put together all the pieces of the puzzle. However, often teams do not understand what is expected out of them. There is confusion regarding who is responsible for what. Dysfunctional teams are the norm.

Patrick Lencioni in his book Five Dysfunctions of a Team looks at team dynamics and their inherent dysfunction thoughtfully and engagingly. I also suggest looking at his website (tablegroup.com). Let's take a look at these five dysfunctions.

1. Absence of Trust: The sad reality is that people do not trust each other easily. It is common to hide behind a facade. Facebook may be the ultimate mask that one puts on. What is real, what is true, who are we really? Who knows? We do not want to be vulnerable, so we hide and we pretend to be invulnerable. What are we so afraid of? Back to our old friend - fear. Fear of being hurt. Fear of being let down. Fear of not being good enough... you know the story.

2. Fear of Conflict: When there is no trust, people avoid any conflict of ideas, leading to artificial harmony. They don't really believe in what is being said, or advocated, but it is too much trouble challenging other people. Besides, if you challenge someone, you might be challenged back. Who needs that, right? It's much better to nod your head, smile and get the meeting over with as quickly as possible so you can get back to all that work piling up on your desk. Sound familiar?

3. Lack of Commitment: As you walk out of the meeting, commitment to the goals is the last thing on your mind. The phone calls you have to return are far more pressing. You feel that most of the goals are crazy and unachievable and in any case, Tom (or X, Y, or Z) never follows up. How could you really commit to these so called team goals? From my days of working in a big company, I still can recall many times when business leaders made implausible commitments to deliver heroic results. This would be followed a few months later with a new story and a new reason for the lack of results. Companies create cultures by their actions. This organization had inadvertently created a culture of earnest oratory and flashy presentations, with little emphasis on true commitment and accountability.

4. Avoidance of Accountability: Not surprisingly there is not much accountability in such organizations. Excuses readily sprout up. Blame, if needed, is quickly apportioned to some unlucky soul with less political skills. It's all a game.

5. Poor Results: The results are usually disappointing. People take credit for what little has gone right and then pin the failures elsewhere. It is said that success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan. Poor results, before we know it, become the norm.


Verinder Syal, Author: Discover The Entrepreneur Within