5 Dysfunctions of the workplace (but we are on the mend ….)

When reviewing and reflecting on my personal learning & development journey over the past 2 years in particular yesterday I was drawn back to the 5 dysfunctions of a team model from Patrick Lencioni.the-five-dysfunctions-of-a-team-4-638

I wanted to share my reflections and seek feedback from anyone that may be interested and thus invite you to reflect on both:

a)       how you stack up with regards this model personally?

but also

b)      how the organisation you work for stack up against this model?

What does this model mean for me today in Feb 2018?

  • Absence of Trust

I attended an excellent talk by Rachel Botsman in Sept 2017 (blog below) who talked about the increasing transparency in society on the back of platforms such as AirBnB, TaskRabbit etc   The very fact that technology is rapidly accelerating transparency yet we as individuals and for sure too many organisations, continue to try and operate in an opaque world is interesting as I guess, heavily fear driven.  The advent of Glassdoor, whatever your like or dislike about such sites, is here to stay.


In order to build increased trust, in all aspects of our lives, we really need to start bringing our whole selves to work and that means, as Tony Robbins wonderfully quotes, moving towards “work/life integration” from “work/life balance.” 

Does everyone know what their personal purpose is, no matter how personal or grand?  Does everyone know intimately what their core values are and what their belief system is?  If we as individuals are not clear on this, it is very difficult to build trusting relations at home and especially at work as misalignment is often the result.

Accountability, the penultimate level of this 5 dysfunctions model, links into this base level also.

  • Fear of conflict

Blogs are meant to be short so I will not spend too much time here, but in my experience to date, mainly of work but also in my personal life, the fear to engage in grown-up, adult-adult debate about differing views remains a dark art to master and this is further amplified (often to bullying) when people hide behind social media personas.

In my personal opinion, this is heavily driven by fear.  Fear of being wrong.  Fear of not winning (at all costs)  Fear to put an ego in check.  Interestingly and I have learned a lot about this with WorldBlu over the past 12 months, listening is the number one, most critical skill in grown up, adult-adult debating.

liste to respond

As such, next time you are involved in a challenging discussion or debate, please remember this quote and try to listen, deeply and intensively, to the other person before responding.  I challenge myself on this again also!

  • Lack of commitment

Operating with clarity = reducing waste (in my opinion) 

Waste such as that seen below; info waste, time waste, meeting waste etc  Without clarity, the below can occur which is rarely measured as an ‘opportunity cost.’

Waste in the Office

Too often in my life experience to date, clarity is replaced, often deliberately, with grey, foggy, smoky spaces where only the ‘trusted few’ have the ‘true’ information.  Note that level 1 of trust showing up.

In Patrick Lencionis book “Organisational Health” he offers what I feel is a robust and excellent model as following:

org health

To truly engage, motivate and support our people being the very best versions of themselves that they can be and therefore delivering the commitmentthat every organisation so desperately seeks, clarity is critical. 

In addition, to actively seek and listen to the ideas, innovation & creativity that is waiting to be unleashed within your organisation which will rapidly increase levels of commitment, it is key as David Marquet says “to push intent (decision making) to where the information is.”  Who better to make a decision about improving customer service than those working in customer service?

There are so many examples from Gallup and others that only 1 in 3 human beings, on average, in the world of work are fully engaged and this has hardly moved over the past 20 years.  What a huge opportunity to tap into the discretionary effort of 2/3rds of the people working on this planet…..

I am pleased to advise that at my work organisation today, our fully engaged rates are getting on for double that average but there is still room to go.

blessing 2

  • Avoidance of accountability

Put simply I would reframe this as the ‘fear’ of accountability.

At this level I am really interested to understand what stops people being accountable.

Fear of failure.

Fear of missing out.

Fear of being passed over by someone else.

Fear of change.

Fear to say no.

The list goes on, but for a human being not to want to be accountable for something, a great opportunity for personal growth, in my opinion, means there is an underlying fear that needs to be surfaced.

  • Inattention to results

Interestingly for me, I have never worked for any organisations in the past 20 years + that have had an inattention to results.

Indeed, the myopic focus on ‘just’ hitting the numbers is what, I feel, often leads to the other 4 levels of this model getting little if any focus, depending on the sector and organisation that you work for.


As such to wrap up this blog, this model holds a lot of value for me personally, but I would not see it as a causative model where you have to pass through one level to get to the next.

It offers some excellent milestones that any individual or team would do well to reflect upon once in a while, to ensure that you are keeping fear & waste to an absolute minimum in any system that you may operate within.


References that may be of interest:

  • Book – Organisational Health by Patrick Lencioni
  • Book – 5 Dysfunctions of a team by Patrick Lencioni
  • Book – Trust by Rachel Botsman
  • Book – Change by Richard Gerver
  • www.worldblu.com

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