Team dysfunctions – Part 2 | Featured columnists

Jerry roberts

More and more dysfunctions are occurring today as we seek to understand why we often have so many problems with teams in the workplace.

It has been almost 20 years since consultant Patrick Lencioni published what has become a widely referenced book on team building, “The five dysfunctions of a team”. He is still considered an excellent resource on the subject.

In Part 1, we discussed Lencioni’s first dysfunction, lack of trust.

Malfunction # 2 – fear of conflict

Here is a statement from Lencioni, and you need to consider it carefully: “By building trust, teams make conflict possible. The first time I saw this in a group, someone said to me, “Wait a minute, I don’t want conflict. If I develop trust, does that make conflict possible? “

Team dysfunctions - Part 1

Is your work team dysfunctional? Are you ready to find out?

Well, it does, and in this context conflict is a good thing. Lencioni would tell you that as long as you can’t generate honest conflict, it’s bad for the organization.

Is conflict a good thing?

I know it sounds wrong, but the concept is sound. When you can disagree on things, and do it constructively, you can make real progress.

So many workplaces have what Lencioni calls “artificial harmony”. Everyone smiles at everyone, and you never hear a discouraging word, and we all get along well.

Lencioni believes these are the places where you will discover unbearable tensions, boring meetings and behind-the-scenes office politics, and the seeds of discontent are brewing to deliver a harvest of doom.

Should I protect people from conflict?

Again, this seems like the right thing to do, but it’s a mistake. It’s admirable that you want to protect your employees against difficult conversations, against people who stand up in front of them, against people who take down their ideas in a meeting, against being publicly exposed that they don’t. may not be ready for a big promotion. Admirable? OKAY. Useful? I doubt.

Because saving your team members before they are uncomfortable prevents those team members from developing coping skills to deal with the conflict they are sure to face in their careers.

Will they be ready?

Phil Jackson, the basketball coach with the most NBA championships under his belt, 11, had a strategy when coaching the Los Angeles Lakers (1999-2011), which fits well into this concept.

When the Lakers saw the opponent stage a large rally to erase their lead or put them behind, Jackson rarely called a time out to slow the other team’s momentum.

Instead, he let the players on the pitch find out. Yes, he could have told them what was going on and how to deal with it, but there was much more value to them if they used their talents and brains to find the answer and solve the problem.

Coaching overcame the conflict

Jackson has had to deal with huge egos on some of these teams, especially the years in which the Lakers have won three straight championships.

Two players, the late Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, had very different styles. Bryant’s off-scale intensity didn’t always match O’Neal’s laid-back approach well, and the two were often at each other’s throats. Yet Jackson used the conflict to produce results.

Don’t let conflict derail you

Lencioni’s idea – something I emphasized in my training – is that while you want to expose workers to conflict, you don’t allow situations to jump off the rails when personalities clash and things get. personal.

Jackson understood this principle. He didn’t want to stifle the personal expression of one of his two big stars, but he couldn’t allow their differences to sink the team’s fortunes.

Using conflict to teach

Once workers have experienced a conflict together, use it as a teaching moment in your group. It reinforces the idea that conflict can push us to greater accomplishments, if we handle it properly.

It should therefore not be feared. It can bring powerful results. These teaching moments will help others prepare for conflict.

Let people talk about how they felt as the situation worsened. Did the words they used calm things down or make them worse?

Extract from “The five dysfunctions of a team” by Patrick Lencioni. We will come back to this next week as we discuss engagement. Have a happy Thanksgiving, with food, family, friends, and thoughts of gratitude.

Need help controlling the negative aspects of the conflict and then using it as a constructive tool? Jerry Roberts can be reached at, or send an email to [email protected]

Comments are closed.