Book Buzz: Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Cindi Filer's review of Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni

Dysfunction - are you living in it in some group or organization in your life?  I know that it seems like more organizations suffer from dysfunction than those that do not.  But, if you are a "fixer" like me, participating in dysfunctional organizations drives us crazy! 

Some questions to consider:

  • Do you sit on a board where people yell at each other and don't show up for meetings?
  • Do your staff members DREAD your management meetings?
  • When you try to make a decision and get input from your management team, do feelings get hurt, and some people don't even participate?
  • Are people leaving your board or committee in hoards?
  • Do you have trouble keeping people involved?

Hmm...sound familiar?   So what is there to do? Read Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers and Facilitators by Patrick Lencioni.

Although this was a great book, it left me frustrated.  I came out of reading it saying, "Yes, we are dysfunctional" but didn't know how to fix it.  The "Overcoming" book helped me solve some of our dysfunctional issues.  

The book is divided into five areas:

  • Building Trust
  • Resolving Conflict
  • Achieving Commitment
  • Embracing Accountability
  • Focusing on Results  

For each of the 5 areas, the author gives 4-5 ideas on how to solve each dysfunction.  One idea I tried from the book was to have all of the management team for a non-profit I work with complete personality tests.  So far, they seem to have loved doing this exercise.  The results have helped me understand why the staff relates to one another in meetings as they do, and I feel it is a great suggestion learned from the book.  

Granted, I'm an HR person, so I also loved the suggestion in the Building Trust section about taking part of a staff retreat to share each other's "life stories".  They claim that the trust that this exercise builds is well worth the time that it takes.  I'll be doing this soon in a staff retreat and am looking forward to seeing the benefit that could come from it. 

I will call this book worthwhile only if you participate on a team that is dysfunctional and that you have the power to change.  This book is great if you are a "fixer" and are ready to take the time and effort to try to dispel the dysfunction.  If you are just reading and would not act on the advice in the book, it is probably not worth the time or money.

This book will take 3 hours or longer to read, and I recommend it be read over several weeks.   Strategies need to be implemented over time, so you may want to read it over at the same time.  

I recommend you take notes as you read or highlight the book because you will want to do some exercises, and it will help to outline this as you go.

I hope you enjoy reading this and begin to create more functional teams!