How to Be a Better Team Member

How to Be a Better Team Member

Most everyone is part of a team. And most of us try to be fair, accepting, helpful, and supportive of our teammates. And yet we frequently encounter problems interacting with others, in spite of shared values and common goals. Why is that? “We have a strong and natural tendency to look out for ourselves before others, even when those others are part of our families and our teams.” ~ Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, (Jossey Bass, 2012) Teams are made up of fallible human beings, all with self-interest and self-preservation on their minds. If that were not enough, people also have strong competitive drives that lead them to put themselves first in an effort to “win.” Those who are less competitive feel threatened, and react with their own defensive stances. And that is how well-meaning team members end up distracted from goals and collaboration. Once self-preservation kicks in, it spreads to other members like a contagious disease; it erodes team spirit causing trust to disintegrate. Because trust is foundational for team members to work together effectively, things can quickly go wrong. As an individual team member, what can you do when you sense friction that could derail your team’s effectiveness? What Would a Navy Seal Do? Brent Gleeson, writing in Forbes magazine in an article, “5 Habits That Effective Team Members Should Never Outgrow” (April 27, 2014), explains that in order to become a member of the Seal’s elite military group, one has to excel in many individual efforts. More importantly, however, Navy Seals must learn to operate as a team in life-or-death missions. Here are...
Can We Really Fix Dysfunctional Teams?

Can We Really Fix Dysfunctional Teams?

Organizations waste vast amounts of time, effort and money each year by failing to recognize or correct dysfunctional teams. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study of 200 global companies across various sectors―involving more than 10,000 projects―found less than 3% successfully completed their plans. Similar research reveals 60%–70% project failure rates. In the United States alone, IT project failures cause estimated losses of up to $150 billion per year. Dysfunctional teams cannot be blamed for all business failures, but they play a major role in unsuccessful projects and missed goals. In his acclaimed bestseller, organizational consultant Patrick Lencioni identifies The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Absence of trust Fear of conflict Lack of commitment No accountability Lack of attention to results Leaders must address these dysfunctions if their teams are to have any chance of success. “The true measure of a team is that it accomplishes the results that it sets out to achieve. …It requires levels of courage and discipline―and emotional energy―that even the most driven executives don’t always possess.” ~ Patrick Lencioni, (Jossey-Bass, 2002) 1. Absence of Trust Trust is the foundation for all human interactions and the key to a functional team. Lack of trust is the core dysfunction, the one that leads to all other problems. Several group behaviors demonstrate distrust. Team members may have low confidence in others. They may fear that any sign of personal weakness could be used against them. Consequently, people are unwilling to be vulnerable, transparent or open when exchanging ideas or expressing their feelings. Those who avoid exposure to criticism resist asking for help and hesitate before offering it to others. A lack...