A team is defined as “a unified, structured group that pursues collective goals through coordinated, independent interaction. Members’ actions are guided by norms and roles, information flows from one to another channel via channels of communication, and some members are more influential than others. They include leaders and followers, interpersonal stars and isolates, and hard workers and loafers. ” (Forsyth, D. R. 2014)
After reading this book, it gave great insight into the dynamics and structures of how teams work and sometimes do not work, it was difficult at first to put this into a perspective that fit my current position and previous positions held. The dynamics of our department are not structured like The FIVE Dysfunctions of a TEAM.
I have worked at GCMC Foodservice for almost 6 years. During that span, I have had 2 managers oversee the department. The first manager left April 2017 on the belief that it was time to move into another position, still within the Foodservice System. Immediately after announcing that, I spoke with him in private to inquire about moving up the ladder into his position. At the time I was labeled as Foodservice Manager 1, he was Foodservice Manager II. He was the Jeff of the 5 dysfunctions of a team. He felt it was a great move for me, an obvious one, and that I would be “stupid” not to go for it. Unfortunately, due to politics and the belief that I was not ready, I did not get the position. To me, when I look back on that decision, I am happy that I was not put into that position. When I reflect on the past 5 years, the team dynamics were dysfunctional. Diving into our structural dynamics, there was fear of conflict, no guidance, authority, leadership, accountability, trust, commitment, nor drive for results. This impacted our team as it was starting over with new leadership. We still had our trust issues unresolved, and the fear of no leadership guidance that we needed.
5 Dysfunctions of a Team Book Paper
The dysfunctions stemmed from the initial arrival of Geisinger into Community Medical Center. Previous years, there were numerous outside contracted Foodservice management companies. Geisinger acquired the hospital, shortly after I took the role as Retail Manager in November 2012. Although my title specifically revolved around retail (catering, cafeteria, and coffee café), I was treated as the Assistant manager. Over the course of the next 5 years, the work dynamics of our team suffered. As I look back on this, there are many things that Geisinger Foodservice Leadership, the first manager, myself, and as well as the supervisors could have done differently in how we handled the department and the employees. We were broken. In the following segments I will go into detail of how our team fit the 5 dysfunctions of a team, why, and what we all could have done better. I put them in order of severity, from bottom to top.
Absence of Trust
This stems from the teams’ unwillingness to be vulnerable with the group. Team members who are not genuinely open with one another about their mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build a foundation. (Lencioni, P. (2005) When trust is present, people step forward and do their best work, together, efficiently. They align around a common purpose, take risks, think out of the box, have each other’s backs, and communicate openly and honestly. (Ccl.org, 2018). Our team did not have trust. We would rather talk around our issues or about our issues than to talk to each other. The absence of our trust stemmed from our lack of communication, admitting our weaknesses and a lack of a solid leadership foundation. We were just a team working separately, making no progress, we were not sharing valued information, and not engaging or cooperating with one another.
In the beginning of Geisinger’s transitioning into Community Medical Center, trust was nowhere to be found. Employees were broken (spirit and mind), they were neglected and lied to from previous management teams. The employees carried this over and it never went away. The trust factor never got rebuilt because the management team also had an absence of trust. We were good at faking it, or pretending to trust one another, in order to keep the peace in the department but that tactic isn’t going to cut it. We also hesitated to ask for help or input because we’re afraid of the possible negative outcomes, which led to mistakes being made. Having that fear within our group dynamics, made it harder to come together as a team/group. We needed to be able to come and voice our opinions, thoughts, visions, and overall input into our department.
Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability. -Anne M. Mulcahy (Hussain, S. S. (2015, September 15).
Trust is an important and valuable factor to have in any team/group, it helps the team become more cohesive, open, and overall productive to achieve the goals set forth by our executive leadership.
Avoidance of Accountability
Without committing a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven people often hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that seem counterproductive to the good of the team. (Lencioni, P. (2005) Simply put, accountability did not exist in our department. Within our management team, nor with our employees. Accountability is about having the anticipation, the preventative measures, and having ownership. As much as the previous manager tried to implement accountability within the team, and with the employees, there was never any follow-through. It was never taken serious enough. We all needed to take ownership of ourselves and our actions.
Lack of Commitment
Without the team airing their opinions in the course of passionate and open debate, team members rarely, if ever, buy in and commit to decisions, though they may feign agreement during meetings. (Lencioni, P. (2005) We had no problems with airing our opinions and having open debates. It was the buy in and the commitment to those decisions. We had a hard time believing them, since the person delivering them, often spoke negative about them. When your team does not believe in what you say, we will not be committed. Having no commitment within our team, made it hard to complete projects, set goals, or even obtain goals.
Fear of Conflict
Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas. Instead, they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments for fear of conflict. (Lencioni, P. (2005). As with lack of commitment, we had very little fear of conflict. We were very open and often abrupt when it came to conflict. Our conflict was not productive conflict, we never resolved anything, we only covered it up and piled more on top of the already growing mound. It also created quick decisions, holding of ideas and the ability not to feel vulnerable. I think a lot of times we were fearful for fear of losing control within our team.
Inattention to Results
This occurs when team members put their individual needs (such as ego, career development, or recognition) or even the needs of their divisions above the collective goals of the team. (Lencioni, P. (2005). We were focused on our own individual work, that it inevitably led to slowed progress and a decline in our team performance. In our minds, we were individuals working separately, but had the same goals and objectives. Successful teamwork is not about mastering subtle, sophisticated theories, but rather about combining common sense with uncommon levels of discipline and persistence. Ironically, teams succeed because they are exceedingly human. By acknowledging our imperfections of their humanity, members of functional teams overcome the natural tendencies that make teamwork so elusive . (Lencioni, P. (2005).
What I have learned about the teams I have been a part of, and still a part of, there are a lot of things that were done wrong, on my part, our teams part, as well as our leader. As we move forward through this course, it has given my tools, techniques, and knowledge to be an effective team member and a team leader. The new manager is currently taking control of our team and the dynamics that make us a team. He brings forth engagement, makes each team member feel invaluable, and enacts meaningful change. Our organization is constantly changing, having a clear and concise goals and vision. Moving forward I will try to be cognizant of how the team progresses through the stages. Each day will be a stepping stone for all of us as we move forward as team/group. I came across the following bullet points to help aid in my future growth as a team member and leader:
• Consider each team members ideas valuable
• Be aware of unspoken words/feelings
• Be clear when communicating
• Encourage trust and cooperation
• Encourage the sharing of information among teams
• Delegate and be accountable on all levels
• Establish team values, goals, and evaluate the team’s performance
• Establish clear ground rules and methods
• Foster teamwork
• Sharing of successes and failures
• Establish leadership
• Listen (not just to reply, but to understand) (“Steps to Building an Effective Team | Human Resources,” n.d.)
As we move forward in our department we are establishing accountability, building trust, and defining roles amongst our team dynamics. Through this new leadership, as with the knowledge and information gained from obtaining my MBA, I feel a new shift in our department.