How to Create a High-Functioning Team

High Functioning Team

A team that works well together can accomplish more than a group of individuals working independently. In order to create a high-functioning team, it is important to understand and address the common pitfalls that can hinder team performance. 

In the book “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team,” author Patrick Lencioni identifies five key obstacles that can prevent a team from reaching its full potential: 

  • absence of trust
  • fear of conflict
  • lack of commitment
  • avoidance of accountability
  • inattention to results

By understanding and addressing these dysfunctions, teams can become more effective and successful.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” —Michael Jordan

5 Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick LencioniTrust – The First Dysfunction

Trust is essential for team members to feel comfortable working with one another – an essential component of a healthy and productive workplace. Without trust, team members may hesitate to share their ideas and concerns, leading to a lack of collaboration and productivity. They may feel disengaged, unvalued, and hesitant to take risks. Therefore, it’s crucial for employers to foster an environment of trust in their workplace.

How to Foster an Environment of Trust in the Workplace

In order to build trust within a team, it is important for team members to be open and transparent with one another. This means being vulnerable and sharing personal information, as well as being willing to admit mistakes and weaknesses. Here are some ways to do that.


A key ingredient in building trust. By being transparent about company goals, expectations, and decisions, employees are more likely to feel valued and included. This includes sharing financial information, business strategies, and other pertinent data that may impact the company’s success. This level of transparency allows employees to better understand their roles and how their work contributes to the overall success of the company.

Open Communication 

Encouraging open communication between employees and management can also build trust. This can be achieved through regular check-ins, feedback sessions, and team or individual meetings. By creating an open-door policy and being accessible, employees are more likely to feel comfortable sharing their concerns and ideas. This not only builds trust, but it can also lead to valuable insights and solutions.


Recognizing and rewarding employees for their hard work and achievements can also build trust. This can be done through bonuses, promotions, and public recognition. When employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to trust that their contributions are valued and that the company cares about their success.


Providing opportunities for growth and development is another way to build trust. This can be achieved through training and development programs, mentorship, and career advancement opportunities. When employees feel that their company is invested in their growth and development, they are more likely to trust that the company is committed to their success.

Leadership sets the tone for the workplace culture. If leaders model trustworthy behavior, it will be more likely to trickle down to the rest of the organization. Leaders can model trust by being transparent, communicating openly, and recognizing and rewarding employees. When employees see this behavior modeled by their leaders, they are more likely to follow suit.

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”  – Phil Jackson

Conflict – The Second Dysfunction

While it may seem counterintuitive, a certain amount of conflict is actually healthy for a team. 

When employees have different backgrounds, experiences, and opinions, this diversity can lead to new ideas and solutions, and can help team members to better understand one another’s perspectives. Research has shown that organizations that encourage constructive conflict often have higher levels of creativity and innovation, by forcing people to think outside of the box and find new solutions.

If team members are afraid to engage in conflict, they may avoid voicing their opinions and concerns, leading to misunderstandings and a lack of collaboration. Without conflict, problems may go unnoticed or unresolved, which can lead to larger issues down the road. When individuals are forced to deal with conflict, it can help them develop new skills, such as active listening, empathy, and problem-solving. Additionally, when organizations are willing to address conflict head-on, it can help them improve their processes and procedures.

Encouraging conflict in the workplace can be a daunting task, but it’s essential for organizations to foster an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their opinions and engaging in constructive discussions. While it may be uncomfortable, it’s important for organizations to embrace it and use it as a tool for growth and improvement.

Ways to Encourage Healthy Conflict

Set the Tone from the Top

Leadership sets the tone for the work environment, so it’s important for managers and executives to model the behavior they want to see. Leaders should encourage open communication and demonstrate that they are open to hearing different perspectives. By doing so, they can create a culture where conflict is seen as a healthy and necessary aspect of the work environment.

Encourage Diverse Perspectives

Encourage employees to share their perspectives and opinions, even if they differ from others. Managers can encourage this by asking for input from all team members, and actively listening to their ideas. This helps to create an environment where all opinions are valued, and everyone feels heard.

Embrace Constructive Conflict

Not all conflict is productive, but constructive conflict can be beneficial for the organization. Encourage employees to engage in discussions that challenge ideas, but in a constructive and respectful manner. By doing so, employees can learn from one another and come up with new and innovative solutions.

Provide Training and Resources

Many employees may feel uncomfortable engaging in conflict, especially if they are not used to doing so. Providing training and resources on how to communicate effectively and engage in productive conflict can help employees build their skills and feel more confident in expressing their opinions.

Celebrate Diversity

Diversity can bring different perspectives and ideas to the table, but it can also lead to conflict. By celebrating diversity and recognizing the value that it brings, employees can feel more comfortable expressing their opinions, even if they differ from others.

Encouraging conflict in the workplace can be challenging, but it’s essential for organizations to create a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their opinions and engaging in constructive discussions. By encouraging healthy conflict, organizations can create an environment where it is seen as a healthy and necessary aspect of the work environment.

“I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”  – Abraham Lincoln

Commitment- The Third Dysfunction

When employees are committed, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and productive. Without it, team members may be unsure of their roles and responsibilities, leading to confusion and inefficiency. 

Ways to Encourage Commitment in the Workplace

Create a Clear Vision

Employees are more likely to be committed when they have a clear understanding of the organization’s vision and goals. Managers should communicate the vision and goals of the organization to employees, and help them see how their work contributes to the overall success of the company. Employees should be able to state the company vision simply, and within one or two sentences. When employees feel that their work is meaningful and aligned with the organization’s vision, they are more likely to be committed.

Foster a Positive Work Environment

Managers should create an environment where employees feel valued, respected, and supported. This can be achieved by recognizing employees’ achievements, providing opportunities for growth and development, and creating a sense of community and belonging in the workplace.

Offer Competitive Compensation and Benefits

Employers should offer competitive compensation and benefits packages to attract and retain top talent. Additionally, offering perks such as flexible work hours, remote work options, and paid time off can help employees feel more committed to the organization.

Encourage Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is closely linked to commitment. Employers should encourage employees to be engaged in their work by providing them with opportunities to provide feedback, share ideas, and collaborate with their colleagues. When employees feel that their opinions are valued and that they have a say in the direction of the organization, they are more likely to be committed.

By encouraging commitment in the workplace, employers can create a workplace where employees feel valued, supported, and committed to the success of the organization.

“Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.” – Virginia Burden

Accountability – The Fourth Dysfunction

Accountability is a critical component of a healthy workplace culture. When employees take ownership of their work, it not only leads to better outcomes but also builds trust and fosters a sense of teamwork. However, it can be challenging to establish a culture of accountability in the workplace. 

Strategies that Leaders can use to Increase Accountability

Establish clear expectations

One of the main reasons for a lack of accountability in the workplace is a lack of clarity about what is expected of employees. To address this, managers and leaders should set clear expectations for each employee and communicate them effectively. This includes outlining job responsibilities, goals, and objectives.

Provide regular feedback

Providing regular feedback helps employees understand how they are performing and what they need to improve on. Managers should provide both positive feedback and constructive criticism to ensure that employees understand what they are doing well and where they need to improve.

Set goals and measure progress

Goals and objectives provide a roadmap for employees to follow and help track progress. Managers should work with employees to set goals and measure progress regularly to ensure that they are on track and held accountable for meeting those goals.

Establish consequences

While it is essential to recognize and reward employees who demonstrate accountability, it is also important to establish consequences for those who do not. Consequences may include corrective action or discipline, depending on the severity of the situation.

By implementing these strategies, managers and leaders can establish a culture of accountability that leads to improved performance, increased trust, and a stronger sense of teamwork among employees.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

Results – The Fifth Dysfunction

In today’s fast-paced work environment, it’s essential to keep team members focused on achieving results. When employees are focused on results, they tend to be more productive, motivated, and engaged in their work. Without this focus, they may become more absorbed in their own interests, leading to a lack of teamwork and collaboration. 

How to Keep Team Members Focused on Results

Set clear goals and expectations and track progress

As mentioned above, setting clear goals and expectations are essential for keeping team members focused on results. Managers should also track their progress regularly. This involves setting up metrics to measure progress towards goals and sharing progress updates with the team. Regular check-ins and progress reports can help team members stay motivated and focused on achieving their targets.

Provide support and resources

Providing team members with the necessary support and resources is crucial for ensuring that they remain focused on achieving results. This includes providing access to training, tools, and technology needed to perform their jobs effectively. Managers should also be available to answer questions and provide guidance when needed.

Reward success

Recognizing and rewarding team members who achieve results can help motivate others to follow suit. Managers should acknowledge team members who meet or exceed their targets and celebrate their success. This can be done through public recognition, bonuses, or other incentives.

“The ratio of we’s to I’s is the best indicator of the development of a team.” – Lewis B. Ergen

In conclusion, creating a high-functioning team requires addressing the common dysfunctions that can hinder team performance. By building trust, encouraging healthy conflict, fostering commitment, holding team members accountable, and keeping the team focused on results, teams can become more aligned, effective and successful.

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