Archives for 1 Jul,2019

You are browsing the site archives by date.

, ,

Dysfunctional Teams

Trust in the work place, just how critical is it to team building?

Many moons ago, we explored the concept of trust in the work place – and in recent weeks we’ve had cause to dust off and brush up on one of our favourite models of team effectiveness, which also raised the issue of the trust in the workplace, developed by Patrick Lencioni.

According to Lencioni, all teams have the potential to be dysfunctional, so to improve the functioning of a team, we need to understand the type and level of dysfunction that they exhibit.  Lencioni suggested 5 dysfunctions of a team:

  • Absence of Trust
  • Fear of Conflict
  • Lack of Commitment
  • Avoidance of Accountability
  • Inattention to Results

As the title of our article suggests, trust is the key element of this model – focus your efforts here and you’ll naturally improve the other four.  We’ve found a little graphic, with trust at the bottom to demonstrate its foundational role.

Lencioni's Pyramid

Trust evaporates when team members are not genuinely open with one another about their mistakes, weaknesses or need for help.  It’s impossible to build a foundation for trust without this authenticity and vulnerability.

“It’s not enough to keep your word; others have to be aware that you are doing it. And here is where it gets sticky. Like beauty, behavioural integrity is in the eye of the beholder. Consistently keeping promises and living by your stated principles are difficult tasks. Being seen as consistently doing these things is harder still.”

– Professor Tony Simons, Cornell University Professor of Management & Organisational Behaviour

So how do you go about building trust through authenticity and vulnerability in the workplace – isn’t that a little scary in fact?

In this instance, we think it’s a good thing that trust isn’t simply a switch that be thrown from on to off.  It’s not something that can simply happen overnight.  It takes time and repeated examples of the same behaviour/skill/outcome for us to build trust, but there are a few key concepts we can build on to get there quicker.

We’ll look at integrity, inclusion and humility here, but if you’d like to know more there are a couple of reads we recommend.  Ken Blanchard’s Trust Works: Building Lasting Relationships is a great foundational book, but if you’re in a rush Diana Gabriels’s 4 Components may be of more interest.

Who watches the watchers?  Building Integrity.

Whether we like it or not, we’re being watched. Our everyday words and deeds are simply there for everyone to see, so we need to be mindful of our actions and our words to ensure they’re building a coherent picture of our behavioural integrity.

Take the Blame and Share the Credit.  Humility.

Nothing breaks trust like a manager or colleague, who at the first sign of something going wrong, points the finger at others.  Who wants that person in their team?

So by contrast, someone keen to build trust will assume responsibility for mistakes, offering to learn from the situation and support others to avoid similar mistakes in the future.  Showing this level of humility repeatedly, will foster trust far earlier and better than the finger pointer.

Know it, but not all of it.  Inclusion.

Being good at what you do is a key component of building trust.  After all, how many people who are a terrible at doing X do you trust to do X?


But it’s important to position your skill and knowledge with a little humility and to acknowledge you might not know it all.  Learning when to ask questions and showing an interest in learning more is a great way to allow others to feel they’re involved in your development.  Inclusion, like intimacy is a key foundation to trust.

As Professor Tony Simons has hinted at, trust is a wonderfully fluid concept that we each experience and exhibit in different ways. There are however, several behavioural steps that we can take to foster and nurture trust within a group of people.

A critical step is to be the first person to be vulnerable. Nobody else will feel safe owning up to mistakes and taking about things they find difficult unless someone starts that trend. How about you? What could you do today or tomorrow to show a bit of your human vulnerability to the team?

If you want to read more on this subject, there’s a great deal of overlap between building trust with colleagues and building trust with clients.  We’ve written more on the latter here…

Read More
, ,

What Motivates Us

biscuits-line-white-background1 400x265Despite common assumption, money is not the greatest motivator.

And neither are cookies apparently.  So what is it that motivates us?  Research tells us that doing interesting work, knowing how we contribute to a bigger picture and receiving thanks and recognition (not of the financial kind) are what motivate us most.

So clearly we need to understand what drives each individual, as what we assume motivates someone, may be incorrect.

The best way to do this is when a manager asks their team to complete a motivation questionnaire, then the manager spends time with each individual, learning more about what the team needs in order to do their best work.

The key here is to use the motivation profile to tell you, more quickly and easily than hours of interviews, what buttons really need to be pushed for each individual to put in their best effort. Once you have the profile, you can consider what questions you need to ask each person, to know what they need from you.

The motivation questionnaire can also be insightful for selection – helping a recruiter understand what really makes the candidate do their best work, and sense-checking that against the organisation’s culture.

Totem Lollipops

What are Motivation Questionnaires?

Motivation questionnaires ask specifically what makes you work more or less hard at work. Whereas personality might indicate what you like, motivation shows us which buttons you need pushed in order to do your best work. A classic insight from a review of both personality and motivation profiles can reveal for example, that an individual prefers less structured work, but they work harder when someone imposes a little structure or sets a tight deadline.

Motivation research shows us that it is not another’s responsibility to motivate a person. In fact, it is really down to each individual to draw their own motivation internally. But a manager, team or organisation can make this easier, by providing the right motivational environment. If we know what buttons are going to be effective, we can get working on the pushing.

What’s the downside?

As with the personality profile, this tool should only be used as a starting point to a great conversation. Using the tool alone, without added interpretation from the individual, is a poor use of a great profile, which can result in misinterpretation, inappropriate action, and little or no value-add.

How to gain maximum value

  • Be open-minded – what motivates you might not motivate others in your team
  • Use the motivation questionnaire as a starting point to a conversation – ask questions to more fully understand what will best motivate your team
  • Make sure you are clear from the outset on your business objectives. Communicate these to all involved so everyone knows why you are using the profile and what the outcomes should be


Read More