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What to do when team conflict arises

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

When team conflict arises, it's important to remember the Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

These five dysfunctions are: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results.

Addressing these dysfunctions can help resolve the conflict.

1. Absence of trust

The first dysfunction is absence of trust.

This can be resolved by building trust within the team.

Trust is essential for any team to succeed. It can be built by being honest and open with each other, and by taking responsibility for your actions.

When you take responsibility for your actions, you show that you're trustworthy and honest. This can help build trust within the team.

Trust is also fostered by demonstrating that you have the team's best interests at heart.

Creating an environment where people can say how they feel is essential for effective team communication.

This can be done by setting clear ground rules for discussion, and by listening openly to others' views.

It's also important to respect everyone's opinions, even if they differ from your own.

By creating a safe and open environment, team members will be more likely to communicate effectively with each other.

When team members trust each other, they're more likely to work together effectively to achieve common goals.

2. Fear of conflict

Most people try to avoid conflict at all costs.

But avoiding conflict can actually lead to more problems in the long run.

Conflict is a natural part of any team. It's when team members disagree about ideas and how to move forward.

When you disagree with someone, it's important to do so in a respectful way.

You should be open to hearing the other person's point of view, and be willing to compromise if possible.

If you can't agree on a course of action, it's important to have a process for making a decision.

This can help ensure that the team moves forward together, despite any disagreements.

When teams are able to disagree respectfully, it leads to more productive discussions and better decisions.

If it's not addressed, conflict can fester and grow until it becomes a major problem.

But if it's handled correctly, conflict can be constructive and help the team move forward.

3. Lack of commitment

The third dysfunction is lack of commitment.

This means that team members are not willing to make decisions or take risks.

They're afraid to commit to anything for fear of making the wrong decision.

Lack of commitment can lead to teams not making decisions, and can also lead to a lack of progress.

When team members are afraid to commit, it can cause stagnation and prevent the team from moving forward.

In order to overcome this dysfunction, team members need to be willing to make decisions and take risks.

They also need to be able to trust each other enough to make decisions together.

Intel came up with the phrase, 'Disagree and commit'.

This is one of my favourite phrases to use with teams.

It sounds easy...

But healthy teams are able to disagree with each other AND commit to a course of action the tie-breaker (the leader) decides on.

Despite disagreeing with some of your team's ideas, be willing to commit to moving forward with the team.

This shows that you value their opinions and are willing to work together towards a common goal.

4. Avoidance of accountability

The fourth dysfunction is avoidance of accountability.

This means that team members don't hold each other accountable for their actions.

They're afraid to point out mistakes or hold each other responsible for results.

When Lencioni's Table Group asked teams around the world to name how challenging each dysfunction was for their team, accountability was by far the most challenging.

5. Inattention to results

The fifth and final dysfunction is inattention to results.

This means that team members are more concerned with their own agendas than with the team's success.

They're more concerned with winning arguments than with finding solutions.

This can be avoided by concentrating on the team's success.

Working together to achieve predetermined goals is an effective way to do this.

It's also important to have a clear and shared vision of what the team is trying to achieve.

By focusing on results, team members can stay motivated and work together more effectively.

These are the five dysfunctions of a team.

If you're part of a team that's struggling, see if any of these dysfunctions are to blame.

And if they are, don't despair.

There are ways to overcome each one and turn your team into a high-performing machine.

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