Absence of Trust

Given the GUBU events of the last two weeks, here’s a bit of direct advice for the defenders of peace in this country.  I strongly suggest that Patrick Lencioni’s book, the Five Dysfunctions of a Team becomes compulsory reading in the following organisations:

Given that they’re all such busy people, I’ll make it even easier for them.  They should start by concentrating on Dysfunction 1 – The Absence of Trust.  Here’s how Lencioni characterises this issue:

Members of Teams with Absence of Trust....

  • Conceal their weaknesses and mistakes from one another
  • Hesitate to ask for help or provide constructive feedback
  • Jump to conclusions about the intentions and aptitudes of others without attempting to clarify them
  • Fail to recognise and tap into one another’s skills and experiences
  • Waste time and effort managing their behaviours for effect
  • Hold grudges
  • Dread meetings and find reasons to avoid spending time together
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  Of course these issues (office politics, turf wars, toxic behaviours, etc) affect many other organisations too.  To what extent do the six characteristics apply in your organisation?

All of these traits can be ‘fixed’ with effort, time, and practice.  They sound easy, but it’s uncomfortable, or even scary to commit to them.  After all, you’ve to trust everyone else to commit too!  What’s the benefit?  Lencioni’s take on this:

Members of Trusting Teams....

  • Admit weaknesses and mistakes
  • Ask for help
  • Give one another the benefit of the doubt before arriving at a negative conclusion Accept questions and input about their areas of responsibility
  • Take risks in offering feedback and assistance
  • Appreciate and tap in to one another’s skills and experiences
  • Focus time and energy on important issues, not politics
  • Offer and accept apologies without hesitation
  • Look forward to meeting and other opportunities to work as a group
These are not ‘soft’ people or soft teams, acknowledging the reality of your situation is the first step in doing something about it.  Trust builds better teams and brings better business.  It takes work at the start, but when embedded in the culture, becomes the basis for a stronger, nicer organisation.

If you’re curious, these are the complete five dysfunctions:

  1. Absence of Trust (Feeling of Invulnerability)
  2. Fear of Conflict (Encourages Artificial Harmony)
  3. Lack of Commitment (Leads to Ambiguity)
  4. Avoidance of Accountability (Leads to Low Standards)
  5. Inattention to Results (Driven by Status and Ego)
It’s certainly food for thought, and a very readable book.  You’ll spot the various characters in your organisation - just remember, they’ll spot you too!

Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2002



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