Google is one of the best companies to work for. Everyone knows that. Read any dissertation from a Googler – past or present – and they’ll wax lyrical about the ‘can-do’ attitude of everyone in the Googleplex, and how strong the team culture is amongst cohorts.
It’s little wonder. Groovy offices, free food, free gym, free transport – it’s all there. But the real secret to Google’s team culture isn’t something they add to the free coffees. It’s the tenet every team member ascribes to: “We’re changing the world, together.”
In other words, to work at Google is transformational.
Have you ever wondered what your little business would look like if you had an all-star team of Googlers behind you, with each member pushing in unison towards the same grand objective?
In Patrick Lencioni’s groundbreaking book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, he contends that many businesses have better products or services, or more efficient technology, and better resources than their competitors.
But their competitors still beat them.
A common reason, he offers, is an absence of teamwork. If this is true, and your business is otherwise productive, this little morsel might just be the panacea you’ve been seeking.
These are the five core messages Lencioni promulgates as the obstacles to building an all-star team. Note how relevant they are to you and your team.
1. They don’t trust you.
Trust is the foundation of an all-star team. Without it, team members refuse to be vulnerable with each other. They hold back their ideas and instead, use their energy to protect themselves from the other team members rather than to push the organisation forward.
2. They Fear Conflict
An all-star team knows how to debate issues passionately, and remain mindful of what’s important and what isn’t. When there’s a lack of authentic discussion around key issues, members of the team pretend to agree. This pretending, however, creates organisational misalignment. It results in acquiescence, in artificial harmony. In the end, team members don’t contribute beyond the superficial and progress is stunted.
3. There’s no Commitment
When teams fail to commit to group decisions, the results are ambiguous. One person fights for his department over here, and another defends her department over there. Their commitment is not to the team, but to the individual. And a bunch of individuals fighting for opposing outcomes is not a team. Rather than building the business, they become the architects of its demise.
4. Accountability is Lacking
When the leader has to hold everyone accountable, it lowers standards because people only perform when the leader is present. Teams who work together actually hold each other accountable because every person on the team wants the whole team to succeed. So, each makes sure that every other person pulls their weight in the business.
5. Results? Meh.
In a dysfunctional team, people focus on their egos and status within the hierarchy. They say to themselves, “How can I achieve my goals and get to the top?” Teams who work together will focus on results in a much more inclusive and holistic way. When the marketing team is struggling, the budgeting team focuses on helping. It’s not every man for himself. It’s one team with one focus – results.
Looking at all five areas, we must understand how each of the dysfunctions affects the others. Trust is the foundation. Without trust, teams will fear conflict. When they fear conflict, they don’t contribute their ideas, so there’s no buy-in or commitment. Without a commitment to the team, they don’t hold each other accountable. And worse, they don’t allow other team members to hold them accountable. The net result is that the team that doesn’t focus on results.
Start with Trust
Since it all begins with trust, you need to figure out a way to facilitate trust amongst the members of your team. Take them away from their typical work environment for a couple of days. Invest in them, and encourage vulnerability. The best way to do that is to lead by example and become vulnerable yourself.
Then encourage some healthy conflict. Ask questions. Listen. And most importantly, urge your team to do the same.
If you address these two areas effectively, the third step will come quite naturally. People will buy-in and commit because they will feel like they have a voice.
The next step will be hard, but it’s essential. You must refuse to be the only person holding others accountable. You must take a step back and encourage the team to hold the team accountable.
The fifth step will be a natural by-product of a healthy, engaged, all-star team. The team will now be very attentive to results.
Remember that every person on your team has a story. They have their own personal struggles and a unique frame of reference for everything that happens around them. Get close to them. Be open and honest with them and seek to understand them better, and the doors or trust will begin to open.
Be courageous. From here on, it’s up to you.