The Highlights and Themes: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team running one group for six months or longer seems quite exorbitant! The theme of this book was based on an organizational approach to effective team building skills. The fable began by giving a brief background of the cooperation, DecisionTech, Inc. which was what this story was centered around. There was a new CEO, of the corporation, Kathryn, and her main task was to create effective teamwork among her staff who were the key leaders of this company.
After observing the interaction and dialogue of all team members for several weeks, she finally decided to call an off-site meeting and invited her staff members to attend. The meeting was to take place just far enough to where it would be considered out of town and she also made it mandatory attendance. She experienced some animosity from her colleagues but she was determined that what she had in mind for their off-site agenda would soon render their cooperation.
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When the off-site began she immediately started to work on creating team cohesion among the leaders of her company. She proposed a model that touched on five dysfunctions of a team. The model was similar to that of a hierarchal model in that a team needed to conquer one aspect or dysfunction of the model before they could effectively move on to the next dysfunction. The first dysfunction of the model is an absence of trust among team members. This stems from their unwillingness to be vulnerable within the group setting.
It concludes that team members who are not genuinely open with one another about their mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build a foundation of trust. This ties into the second dysfunction in that a failure to build trust among team members solicits a fear on conflict. Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas. Instead, they rely on guarded comments and keep the tone at a surface. The lack of healthy conflict within a team ensures the third dysfunction, lack of commitment.
If members of a team cannot speak freely and voice their opinions, then there will rarely ever be team buy in or a commit to decisions. If this is to occur, members will lack commitment and develop the fourth dysfunction, an avoidance of accountability. If there is not a commitment to a plan of action then members often hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that seem counterproductive to better the team. If there is not any accountability, this creates an environment where the fifth dysfunction can thrive.
The fifth and final dysfunction of the model is inattention to results. This occurs when team members put their individual needs such as career development, above the collective goals of the team. The vast majority of the fable describes in detail how each of these dysfunctions can detriment effective teamwork and hinders the underlying goal of a corporation. Throughout the fable there are members of the team who retaliate against the model and some leaders even left the company.
However, in the end, this fable truly shows how effective this model can be when used in a team building environment. Towards the end of the fable, there is an overview of the model which goes into more detail on how to implement the model and offers suggestions for overcoming each of the dysfunctions. One of the tools that were suggested for helping a team to build trust was a personal history exercise. This is a simple exercise that is done in less than one hour and is vital for a team to flourish when creating trust among its members.
The simplicity of this exercise is basically questions that are not too personal yet educate fellow members about the background personal life of each team member. Another great suggestion was administering a personality and behavioral preference profile such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). By doing this within a team setting will allow people to better understand and empathize with one another. The overview of the model also provides characteristics of the role of the leader in when dealing with each of the five dysfunctions.
This fable was a great way to promote the importance of a team and its functions. This book had many highlights throughout the context and I would highly recommend it to leaders of a corporation or of that of a team like setting. This book offered many great implications of the model and how to use it in many diverse settings when trying to build and manage successful teams. The Implications for the Practice and the Future of Counseling: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team School counseling programs are designed to serve the school as a whole.
They serve the students as counselors, act as consultants to teachers, parents and administrators and coordinate activities to implement the developmental guidance program. However, in order to have an effective program they need to instill the qualities of Lencioni’s model into their interaction with the individuals they serve. The first item is to build trust among students, parents and school staff, so that they feel comfortable coming to the counselors to address their issues or concerns. While confidentiality could be a challenge working with minors, it should be kept as much as possible.
They also need to feel that when they meet with the school counselors that he or she has the individual’s best interest in mind. Once a rapport has been built, the counselors will be able to confront or address conflict with teachers, students and parents with greater respect. Also, since teachers are often coming to the school counselors to complain or vent about other staff members they can remind the teachers that by confronting the individual directly problems can be solved quicker. This will keep people from holding their frustrations in and blowing up all at once.
Since the school counselors create activities for classroom guidance and coordinate many school wide informational programs, they can use the interests and expertise of staff members and parents to help out. This will create an environment where the individuals helping are doing activities that they are interested in and feel passionate about. As a result, these people will buy into the school counseling program. Also, when they see the results of the services that are implemented to help their children or students they are more apt to be committed to following through with suggestions that the counselors have made.
In order to see how well the counseling program is serving the school population they must implement forms of accountability to evaluate how successful they have been or change areas that have not been as effective. The counselors should create an advisory committee comprised of at least one administrator, a teacher representative from each department, a couple of parents and members of the community. They can hold meetings on a regular basis to receive feedback on what aspects of the program are working well and what needs to change.
The school counselors can also use statistics to evaluate their academic and behavioral interventions. In order for the school counselors to serve the population of students, parents and staff they cannot stray from focusing on the goals that are in the best interest of everyone involved. While the counselors need to work with many individuals they also need to stay committed to the other counselors and work together as a team, not as individuals with their own goals in mind. The Highlights and Themes: Creating Effective Teams Research has concluded that group development and human development have much in common.
Groups develop across time very much like people do. Groups and people experience periods of dependency, conflict, trust and structuring work, and disengagement. The entirety of the book focuses on the important factor, how work groups become teams. Wheelan (1999) defines work groups as a set of individuals comprised of members who are striving to create a shared view of goals and also work together to develop a productive and effective organizational structure in which to accomplish those particular goals. Work groups that are effective and efficient are termed as teams.
A work group becomes a team when common goals amongst the collaborative group of individuals have been established and effective methods to accomplish those goals are in place or have been obtained. Wheelan (1999) suggests that upper management should consider the following guidelines if organizations wish to have effective teams,: clearly defines the organizational mission, supports innovation, expects success, values superior quality and service, pays attention to detail, values team recommendations, sets clear expectations for the group, and rewards teamwork rather than individual performance.
Wheelan (1999) also suggests that work groups and teams function better in an organizational climate that: establish meaningful group goals and meaningful tasks that require skill, have variety, and require interdependence in order to accomplish those goals and tasks; establish meaningful group goals and tasks that require continuous learning; establish access to the technical resources necessary to accomplish tasks; establish access to human resources necessary to accomplish group goals and; establish defined team work areas.
Wheelan utilizes an integrated model of group development in her own work and refers to this model throughout the book, including examples of the four stages of group development. The first stage of group development is characterized by member dependency on the designated leader, concerns about safety, and concerns about feeling included. At stage two, the group seeks to free itself from its dependence on the leader and members fight among themselves about group goals and procedures.
If the group manages to work through the inevitable conflicts of stage two, the group moves to stage three which includes member trust, commitment to the group, and willingness to cooperate. Communication becomes more open and the group becomes more task-oriented. Stage four of group development is a time of strong team productivity and effectiveness. The quality of work increases tremendously at the last stage of group development. Group development does not always proceed in a positive direction.
Groups can get stuck at a particular stage for extended periods of time which can result in long-term ineffectiveness and decreases in productivity. The most important characteristic of a high performance team is that its members are clear about team goals. Until everyone is clear about the team’s goals, Wheelan (1999) states that it makes no sense to try to work to accomplish them. That means that people who are part of the team must think that the goals are reasonable and attainable.
Once goal clarity and member agreement with the goals has been achieved Wheelan (1999) states that the team will hopefully work through nine more key areas in order to ensure productivity of their group, totaling ten keys to team productivity. Beside goals, the other nine include: •Roles •Interdependence •Leadership •Communication and feedback •Discussion, decision making, and planning •Implementation and evaluation •Norms and individual differences •Structure •Cooperation and conflict management Wheelan (1999) also outlines behaviors and attitudes of effective team members, and effective team leadership.
The disposition of an effective team member consists of someone who does not blame others for group problems; encourages the process of goal, role, and task clarification; encourages the adoption of an open communication structure where all members input and feedback is heard; promotes an appropriate ratio of task and supportive communication; promotes the use of effective problem-solving and decision-making procedures; encourages the establishment of norms that support productivity, innovation, and freedom of expression; goes along with norms that promote group effectiveness and productivity; promotes group cohesion and cooperation; encourages the use of effective conflict management strategies; interacts with others outside the group in ways that promote group integration and cooperation within the larger organizational context; and supports the leader’s efforts to facilitate group goal achievement. Wheelan (1999) views the leader of a team as one who instills new thinking in followers and redirects group activities.
Characteristics of an effective team leader consist of someone who doesn’t take on every leadership assignment and adjusts their leadership style to meet the developmental needs of the group at a particular point in time. Finally, Wheelan (1999) concludes that many groups never sustain high performance and reach stage four of group development. As stated above, stage four of group development is a time of intense productivity and effectiveness and getting to this point is not easy and staying at this point isn’t any easier. Without constant vigilance, teams may regress to earlier stages of development. To maintain high levels of performance in stage four for an extended amount of time, team members must get the work done and get it done well and maintain positive relationships with each other and leader.
High performance is maintained in stage four in the following ways: the team gets, gives, and utilizes feedback about its effectiveness; the team evaluates its performance on a regular basis; and the team takes steps to avoid routine and getting stuck. The Implications for the Practice and the Future of Counseling: Creating Effective Teams This book is a great addition to a grab bag of tools necessary to deliver effective relationships in teams and/or groups in multiple arenas both psychologically and organizationally. The main focus of the book is positive and gives steps for effective communication within a group of individuals, working towards a common goal or common goals.
It is a great step by step guide and/or addition that a mental health counselor or school counselor used to maintain healthy, productive groups and to understand a different perspective or an additional way to perceive group dynamics. Working in groups is in our nature. As stated in the book, “Some would argue that our ability to work together, was, and is, the key to human survival and advancement” (Wheelan, 1999). Wheelan (1999) goes on to point out that teamwork is necessary for organizational success, which could include any team (or group) in any situation involving relationships and productivity; individuals progressing forward successfully and collaboratively including: making decisions; maintaining cohesion and conflict; interpersonal attraction; cooperation; effective conflict management strategies, etc. – are all a part of teamwork (or group) success.
Similar to mental health groups, one of the effective teams that Wheelan has created involves: The team (or group members) gets, gives, utilizes feedback about its effectiveness and productivity Team (or group) evaluates its performance on a regular basis Team (or group) takes steps to avoid routine and getting stuck The author considers it easier to create work groups and focus mutual efforts on work results than to address organizational issues that may be inhibiting group performance. Her research focuses mainly on how work-groups become teams and that there is distinction between a work-group and a team. Those that have not reached that level of effectiveness and productivity are referred to as work-groups (Wheelan, 1999).
The author notes that, “reading the book will not be enough; like other changes in attitudes or behaviors, learning to utilize this information in the groups will take time; attitudes and behaviors don’t change over night” (Wheelan, 1999). Mental health and school counseling groups experience the same and can utilize the wisdom in this book to increase their own skills and work team dynamics i. e. pick and choose many salient ideas to use within their own group environments. This book follows many of the same mental health implications for creating and maintaining a healthy group environment with: Clearly defining group mission and goals Support and trust
Realistic guidelines and goals with established times, meaningful content requiring continuous learning (Growing/changing) Goal setting combined with feedback including attention to group development issues Group members set the goals together and determine strategies for improvement Measurement for performance, results Access to outside resources when necessary, tools i. e. you can’t build a house without tools (Wheelan, 1999) A group needs territory, secured and dependable, familiar surroundings Effective group participation; knowledgeable and experienced group leader Interventions to facilitate group performance Sufficient autonomy Every member has a role to play Sub groups are integrated
What is different and what could be implemented in mental health or counseling groups from her research, is implementation of focusing on the positive outcomes and expectations that ‘work-groups’ focus on to maintain effectiveness and energy: by expecting success from the beginning, paying attention to detail, valuing feedback as a positive way to elicit positive change for the individual as a member of the group or as a collaborative part of the whole. If a metal health group leader is encouraging and flexible to new ideas and new ways of running a group, members feel energized and supported; members are allotted more room to feel ownership and control as a contributing and valued member. Challenging group members to think and work to capacity can encourage more results in all group environments. Also, intense productivity and effectiveness, collaboration as a team in a group; can develop and assist and support each other in a cohesive manner to grow and change, while encouraging task-related conflicts and maintaining high performance over counseling meetings.
It is interesting that from leading and lecturing and researching her own groups that Wheelan has discovered that it takes a good six months for one of her teams to really become cohesive and high energy, working effectively and efficiently. She also notes that getting to the highest level of efficiency, Stage four, is very difficult to achieve and even more to sustain. When a team reaches level four they can be excited with the ease at which work gets done; thrilled with the feelings of camaraderie and trust; happy they are learning so much; eager for the experience to continue for as long as possible; encourages innovation; attention to details; suggestions on how to improve or feedback, encouragement (Wheelan, 1999). Being trained as a professional school counselor, imagining