Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Book Review: Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

While I was on honeymoon I read a great book: Patrick Lencioni's Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

It's an easy read; I tore through it in a day but its simplicity belies its genius. It really gets to the core of how people can work together effectively. Lencioni describes a situation where a new CEO is seeking to enable her top team to work effectively. Through the fable of her experience, we learn the five dysfunctions of a team which are:

  1. Absence of Trust
  2. Fear of Conflict
  3. Lack of Commitment
  4. Avoidance of Accountability
  5. Inattention to Results

This really resonated with my experience of when teams are working well, especially the emphasis on trust and healthy conflict. Unless people feel free to express their opinion and participate, the team will be living a kind of fake reality and not having the necessary rigorous debate to put ideas and issues to the test. I can see there's a strong connection between being able to express your views positively and feeling engaged with work.

The importance of accountability was also really eye opening for me. It made me recognise that in teams I've managed I have taken ownership for calling out unacceptable behaviour rather than encouraging the team to do it themselves but this actually disempowers the team. So there's something for me to work on there.

It also made me think about saying my marriage vows (forgive me for having weddings on the brain at the moment!) and how a marriage is a team of two. Lencioni talks about successful teams where people aren't protectionist and share resources happily because it's for the good of the team. Admittedly at just three weeks of marriage so far I do not consider myself an expert in this area!

At the back the book has a helpful assessment that you could run through with your team and then a series of exercises to take them through. I think as well as going through these it would also be a good idea for all team members to read the book too and spend some time discussing the thoughts it prompts. I really recommend this book if you're looking to give employee engagement a boost and get your teams working more effectively. You can buy it from Amazon here.

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