Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Evaluating Your Team Dynamics

We returned yesterday from our spring staff retreat out at Camp Tejas. We had a great time remembering all that God has done and looking forward to all that God will do in the coming months. Though we got a lot of work done, we also spent a considerable amount of time just laughing together as a team (which is always helpful). One of the first sessions we did was called building a culture of trust and we talked through the five dysfunctions of a team that Patrick Lencioni writes about in his leadership book on team. Lencioni does a great job of articulating what a team looks like when they are dysfunctional. His five elements are...

1) The absence of trust, which stems from a team's unwillingness to share honestly and openly with each other. Does your team get vulnerable with each other? We decided that our team shares honestly with each other and owns our own mistakes and feels a strong sense of trust.

2) Fear of conflict, which results in a team that is unable to have unfiltered and passionate debate. Does your team have healthy conflict, where debate is passionate without getting personal? Our team is really strong in this area, though some of our newer staff members said they were still getting used to the free-flow of ideas that happens in our meetings.

3) Lack of commitment, which means that team members rarely buy in and commit to the decisions of the team. We decided this shows up when "I" and "ya'll" language trumps "we" language among a team. Team members who are not bought in say "I told you so" when things go poorly instead of owning group decisions. Does your team have equal commitment from all the members? We are getting better in this area.

4) Avoidance of accountability, which produces a team that is afraid to hold members of the team accountable to their commitments. Does your team have a healthy level of accountability or do people fail to keep their word without fear of confrontation? Our team can struggle sometimes with over-committing out of a desire to be helpful only to realize later that we can't deliver. We are getting better at being accountable to each other and to the team.

5) Inattention to results, which is different from #4 because it means the team is not paying attention to the team performance, only personal performance. This is really deadly in church settings where one ministry feels like they are doing well and ignores the struggles of the rest of the church. Does your team put the results of the whole ahead of their own personal results? This is one of the hardest parts of a healthy team, but we are getting better in this area by clarifying what results we should all care about and looking at them together as a whole team.

Unhealthy leadership teams produce unhealthy organizations, so take time to make sure that your team is not dysfunctional!

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