December 20, 2010
A big part of project management is working to grow a high performing team and then caring for that team so it stays healthy and productive. Agile concepts around empowered teams and team decision making support these goals and so there should be no surprise that agile project management aligns well with team development best practices.
However, it never hurts to better understand some of the things that can go wrong on teams so that we can quickly take action and hopefully resolve issues before they become full blown team problems. Patrick Lencioni’s book “The 5 Dysfunction of a Team” lists the following 5 common problems that build on from each other to undermine trust and eventually performance.
1) An absence of trust – an unwillingness to be vulnerable and honest within the group.
2) Fear of Conflict – Teams that lack trust cannot engage in unfiltered debate. Instead they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments
3) Lack of commitment – without passionate debate, team members rarely if ever, buy in and commit to decisions, though they may feign agreement during meetings
4) Avoidance of Accountability – Due to the lack of commitment and buy-in most people will hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviours that seem counterproductive to the good of the team.
5) Inattention to results – Failure to hold one another accountable leads to putting individual goals (or department goals) ahead of the project.
Fortunately agile methods and some common sense offer many tools and values to address these issues...
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