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Facilitation: The Sword to Slay the 5 dysfunctions of teams?

I was listening to the excellent 'Oh For Food’s Sake' podcast the other day in which Amy Wilkinson and Lucy Wager were talking about Patrick Lencioni’s work on the 5 characteristics of dysfunctional teams. As I listened, I realised how #facilitation offers the antidote to the five symptoms…

Using facilitation to overcome the 5 dysfunctions of teams

1. Dysfunctional teams are characterised by an absence of TRUST.

Symptom: Team members may conceal weaknesses and mistakes, hesitate to ask for help, jump to conclusions and may fail to recognise each other skills and experiences. They waste time and energy. They hold grudges, and they may have a blame culture.

Antidote: Facilitated exercises create an open and safe working space where people can take risks and share immature ideas without fear of ridicule. Good facilitators foster an inclusive climate where people can speak openly, develop collaborative working and build trust through dialogue. They generate questions about areas of responsibility and allow meaningful discussion. They allow teams to connect, and to grow.

2. Dysfunctional teams are characterised by fear of CONFLICT.

Symptom: Meetings tend to be boring and contain few challenges. Organisational politics often persist, and controversial topics are overlooked. Opinions tend to be one sided. A few voices dominate, and team members fail to tap into all the opinions and perspectives of their colleagues.

Antidote: A well facilitated process will include a safe space for conflict and will ensure that all voices are heard. Good facilitators manage a mature environment that allows creative ideas to be shared, discussed and critically evaluated, extracting and exploiting the ideas of all team members in an inclusive way. Exercises are designed to include honest exposure of barriers, blocks and to expose the elephant in the room. The use of an external facilitators minimises politics, allows freedom of speech and puts critical topics on the table for discussion without organisational internal prejudice playing out.

3. Dysfunctional teams are characterised by a lack of COMMITMENT.

Symptom: There is lack of certainty about direction and priorities. Opportunities are lost due to uncertainties and there is a lack of confidence and/or a fear of failure. In such an environment decisions may circulate and may need to be revisited again and again.

Antidote: A good facilitator creates clarity around direction and priorities and aligns the entire team around the agreed objective. This creates a strong sense of alignment and purpose. Personal and team commitments are captured and sensible plans discussed. Action planning forms a crucial part of and good facilitated process.

4. Dysfunctional teams avoid ACCOUNTABILITY.

Symptom: A culture of mediocrity where people are unwilling to hold each other to account for the standards being delivered. Deadlines are missed and deliverables are lost, with the team leader often becoming the sole source of discipline.

Antidote: Facilitators work to align all team members behind a goal, with accountability easily assigned. Things that we create for ourselves have high value. This means that because the whole team built the standard, the whole team buy-in to the standard. Accountability is a by-product of this process.

5. Dysfunctional teams are characterised by INATTENTION TO RESULTS.

Symptom: The team does not measure or focus strongly enough on what they're trying to achieve. They become easily distracted and goals can become dissipated or individualised. When this happens the one common team goal becomes diluted, or loses focus.

Antidote: A good facilitator focuses the team they are working with, paying attention to small details to enhance the way that the team works. They support the team in the process of agreeing specific (often SMART) objectives and targets, and to determine measures of success. During a facilitated session, a good facilitator will remain focused on session objectives (using WTF), handling carefully any discussion which potentially takes the session off topic or threatens to dilute the efficacy of the work being done. This generates impactful output and brings a clear focus to what the team working on - and yet it does so in a way which in which all voices are heard. This focus ensures that sessions are action orientated and can add dynamism to a team that is feeling lost.

Want to know more about how #facilitation can help your team?


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