This month’s five-part blog series "The Power of Relationships!" is loosely based on Patrick M. Lencioni's research that found five dysfunctional areas where teams tend to struggle, as described in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a team. So far, we have discussed dysfunction #1, The Absence of Trust, and dysfunction #2, Fear of Conflict, and most recently dysfunction #3, The Lack of Commitment, and #4 Avoidance of Accountability. This week we will finish this series by discussing dysfunction #5, Inattention to Results. We will conclude our discussion on ways to help you overcome dysfunctions, leading you and your team to experience tremendous success and improved productivity. Remember, each of the five dysfunctions is interconnected, so when one level of dysfunction comes into play, there will likely be a domino effect. If you or someone on your team is unwilling to overcome the other dysfunctions, you and your team will not be effective in accomplishing your result, your mission. It’s important to understand that overcoming team dysfunction is not a once and done type of challenge. Highly successful teams are relentlessly focused on results. They are always seeking to become more effective by paying close attention to the areas where teams struggle the most and working to resolve dysfunction from its root.
Teams need to be focused on results because your organization or your school would not exist without them. If your team cannot deliver the performance outcome (results) you need to accomplish your individual and team goals, then you will not achieve the mission. For example, if your team struggles with accountability, they will undoubtedly experience inattention to results. Failure to deliver results could lead to all kinds of known and unknown consequences for your organization or school. In the non-profit world, failure to deliver could lead to loss of funding, missed opportunities for the growth of your team and the organization as a whole. In education, when teams fail to deliver on an outcome or are not focused on results, the entire school will suffer, but most importantly, academic achievement will suffer. Each team member has a responsibility to lead in their area, while often, the leader takes the ultimate accountability for an outcome. You must understand that each team member has to focus on team/ organizational/ school results. When your team takes action to resolve dysfunction from the root of the problem, your team will see positive results, and your team’s productivity will skyrocket.
“To achieve results. This is the only true measure of a team P.42.”
- Patrick Lencioni.
What is Dysfunction #5 Inattention to Results?
Inattention to results is the fifth dysfunction identified by Patrick Lencioni. Lencioni asserts that inattention to results is perhaps, the ultimate dysfunction of a team because it kills motivation. Inattention to results occurs when team members care about something other than the collective mission of the team. Having a strong focus on specific objectives, goals, and clearly defined outcomes needs to be a requirement for any value-driven team and dependent on outcome-based- performance.
Why should you seek to overcome Dysfunction 5?
Having attention to results on a team or being vested and focused on the collective goal means that you are willing to do what is necessary to accomplish and achieve the results your team needs. Collective team goals will help deliver collaborative team results. The leader of the team will set the tone. Still, it is everyone’s responsibility to have self-awareness and recognize when their actions and behavior align with the team’s clearly defined actions needed set goals, and clearly defined objectives that will help the team achieve its mission. When you have inattention to results, you and your team will not grow, you will not measure up to your competitors (other schools), your student’s academic achievement will decline. Your team members will quickly be distracted by their individual goals, professional development, and agenda, leading to your team miss out on delivering the results needed for your team to win. When you overcome dysfunction #5, your team will thrive. Teams need to build a culture where attention to results is valued and required. When you relentlessly focus on results, your mission can be accomplished.
Check out this short clip from Patrick Lencioni talking about the importance of overcoming the 5th Dysfunction of a Team, Inattention to results.
What do results-driven school teams look like?
Teams with a strong focus on results have ideal team players who are willing to share accomplishments with others, and they are eager to leave their egos at the door. Teams that focus on results are teams that have high accountability, have a clear understanding of the team’s mission and vision, and clearly articulate the goals that will produce results needed to accomplish the mission. School leadership teams focused on results can carefully analyze data they receive and organize a series of actions that everyone on the team is responsible for executing by clearly defining, critical actions necessary and key characteristics needed to accomplish understood goals. They can rally the team around a common goal to achieve continuous progress by focusing on their available data. For example, while looking closely at schoolwide data, a leadership team might discover that English learners in their school are performing at lower levels than expected on summative assessments. Using this data, they set a clear and measurable goal that will lead to improved student performance. School Leadership teams also take the information they have and use it to empower teachers to use student data to make informed decisions about using the data in their classrooms to support students. When a leadership team creates a culture in which teachers understand and take accountability for their student’s achievement, teachers naturally become more comfortable and accustomed to seeking out data and customizing their instructional practices. Leadership and teachers use the data to positively influence their professional learning to influence the results showing on the data and ultimately grow and support their students. When school teams are focused on results, they also utilize data to track their progress and make adjustments to their instruction and school practices when necessary to accomplish the school mission. When teams are focused on results, they will utilize the data they have to help them to identify urgent needs, issues and gauge progress when it is made. A strong focus on results also encourages leadership teams to analyze and recognize practices that will maximize positive impact for students and help their team and educators to brainstorm creative ways to scale up effective methods that lead to increased academic success, growth of their campus and student body.
Results-driven teams also support efforts to retain highly effective educators. It’s no secret, there is a shortage of teachers, and it only continues to grow as time passes. According to research, the shortage is even more acute with high poverty schools and schools in urban areas that struggle to hire and retain credentialed teachers. When leadership teams focus on results, they can use data to make informed decisions about what steps are necessary to change the outcome positively.
Overall, your team will experience dysfunction if your team members do not trust each other or are afraid to argue. When this dysfunction is present, it will lead to non-committal decisions being taken that ultimately will lead to team members who have no accountability. When this happens, the result will be that your team members will focus more on their results instead of the team’s results. Without accountability, your team will not see the results they want and need to accomplish the mission because they will be too focused on pursuing their agenda, goals, and objectives. The easiest way for a team to overcome the dysfunction of inattention to results is to declare and make known to everyone the results they need. Making your results known will help your team align better and give team members a better opportunity to connect to the work needed to achieve the mission. Your team members will essentially work more passionately towards the goal. Another way is to see an increase in the focus on results is to provide results-based rewards. When you compensate your team well for the results, they produce it will lead to increased performance and an increased focus on the results you need.
If you have gotten value out of this series, it is mainly because our team took the time to read Patrick Lencioni’s best-selling book. Pick up your copy of Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a team here.
8 Tips to help your team pay attention to results
- Keep The Focus on the Goal and the Mission: Above all, your team is working to achieve its mission, so, therefore, the focus must be centered on the goals that will help the team to accomplish this mission. Any behavior that distracts the team from achieving its mission is a waste of time. Holding someone accountable is not personal so being willing to call out someone on your team when they engage in behavior that takes focus away from accomplishing set goals that will achieve the mission is key.
- Collect and make use of feedback given: Receiving input from others on and outside the team is a great way to encourage increased accountability. There’s power in being comfortable with examining and utilizing the feedback given to help you and your team make decisions. Seek to establish a school culture that accepts peer review and constructive feedback consistently. When teams seek and receive feedback from their peers and others and then utilize it to grow themselves and others on the team, it will increase accountability and improve performance. Establishing a peer review culture and consistent feedback where people feel they can call each other out is an effective way to resolve performance and accountability issues quickly.
- Embracing failure leads to a success mindset: Winning is great, but eventually, everyone fails. There’s nothing to be afraid of when you fail except if you fail to learn from it and become more effective. Often, people are fearful of punitive actions when they make a mistake. Sometimes, that is inevitable; however, if you treat failure as an opportunity to learn, you can arrive at the root of the failure and determine what needs to happen to resolve it and move forward stronger than before, you will see results. If you develop a culture at your school and on your team that negates the fear of failure, you will see your accountability skyrocket because they will spend less time being afraid to make a mistake and more time focusing on the task at hand.
- Develop guiding principles and a set of key characteristics for yourself and your team: Encourages all teams to develop a set of guiding principles that tell you precisely what you should be doing and why and a part of that is having a set of key characteristics that will unite your team as it works to accomplish the team’s mission. This is a great way to clarify what is expected at your school and on your team regardless of your position. Key characteristics are specific traits that are agreed upon by all members that tell its members who they need to become to accomplish their mission (borrowed from Donald Miller’s newest book, Business Made Simple). When you clearly define what is expected, you will see accountability increase naturally.
- Develop Critical Actions for your team members: Along with creating key characteristics, Donald Miller suggests that teams should also develop at least three critical actions that every person can take to accomplish the mission. When your team establishes critical actions, it will make it easier for poor performers to recognize and feel natural pressure to improve their performance. By having a set of critical actions to follow, your and your teams’ accountability will increase.
- Maintain a results oriented team culture: Establishing a team culture that encourages team members to reflect on how their actions and priorities align with the overall team results help to create a results-oriented foundation within the team. Aligning every task towards the ultimate goal is to be intentional about the product and drive team member growth.
- Celebrate small successes: By breaking down big goals into manageable tasks, smaller goals with visible results can give confidence and help your team become persistent in moving towards the overall goal. This in turn can help avoid inattention to results by leading people to revisit the goal after every increment and realigning priorities according to the overall goal. This also helps to define success and demonstrate the direction that is most beneficial for the team.
- Remind people of their contributions: Remind people regularly of how their work is contributing to the team. By linking individual successes to the entire team demonstrates how the effort of one person can bring the team closer to its goals.
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