Those of us who have had the experience of being a member of a high-performing team know firsthand of the benefits. It is seen in the quantity and quality of results the team produces and in the high levels of satisfaction experienced by its members. Others of us have seen the opposite – teams that never got off the ground, swimming in unproductive conflict, lacking direction, avoiding accountability, and whose members are fraught with low morale.
Patrick Lencioni, author of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, holds that the “single most untapped competitive advantage for organizations today is teamwork.” He describes that in order to gain this advantage, teams must be able to engage in five key behaviors:
- TRUST one another – when team members are genuinely transparent and honest with one another, they are able to build vulnerability-based trust.
- Engage in CONFLICT around ideas – when there is trust, team members are able to engage in unfiltered, constructive debate of ideas.
- COMMIT to decisions – when team members are able to offer opinions and debate ideas, they will be more likely to commit to decisions.
- Hold one another ACCOUNTABLE – when everyone is committed to a clear plan of action, they will be more willing to hold one another accountable.
- Focus on achieving collective RESULTS – the ultimate goal of building greater trust, conflict, commitment, and accountability is the achievement of results.
When team members are able to engage in these five behaviors, they will work together more efficiently and effectively and become a more cohesive team. A productive, high-functioning team:
- Makes better, faster decisions
- Taps into the skills and opinions of all members
- Avoids wasting time and energy on politics, confusion, and destructive conflict
- Avoids wasting time talking about the wrong issues and revisiting the same topics over and over again because of a lack of buy-in
- Creates a competitive advantage
- Is more fun to be on!
How much teamwork is necessary in order to achieve our best outcomes and results? Consider these three factors and the extent to which they are important for your team. Your answers will help determine not only the importance of teamwork, but also the amount of time and energy that should be invested in helping your team develop.
- Interdependence: To what extent does our individual performance depend on and/or affect how others do their jobs?
- Collaboration: How important is shared decision-making and problem-solving to our overall team performance?
- Accountability: How important is it to our success that we give and receive feedback from one another?
There are many reasons why teams struggle. What obstacles are holding your team back? How can your team do better? The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ is one proven way to help them succeed.
This is part one of a seven-part series on Building a Cohesive Team.
Tom Sullivan is an authorized partner of The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™. “The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team” is a trademark of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.