By Peter Hopper, Senior Director, Integrated Client Services, Palio
I noticed a few copies of Death by Meeting floating around the office, a book by New York Times best-selling author Patrick Lencioni. Lencioni is the founder of The Table Group, a management consulting firm specializing in executive team development and organizational health.
I was in the mood for a little professional refreshment and decided to look a little further into his work and discovered The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
Team work is one of the core values at Palio, and, as is true with most organizations and particularly an advertising/marketing shop, there is a diverse multiplicity of teams and team structures throughout our organization, with an interesting collection of minds and mind sets represented around the table. We all know about how creative and account folks are cut from the same cloth. Add in digital. Medical. Brand. Editorial. Production. Producers. Research and analytics. Finance and administration. You get the picture? A motley crew.
At Palio we have The Environment Team, a group of people organized to bring even more fun into our work lives (“Fun” is another core value here at Palio). We have our Senior Leadership Team, our Double H Team (to organize the pro bono and volunteer work we do for this wonderful camp for kids in the Adirondacks), the iPad Team, the Social Media team, and all of our department and brand teams. We have many, many teams here at Palio.
Hmmm, about that whole Death by Meeting idea…
But back to Lencioni and team dysfunction. The appeal of his writing is that he creates a fictional story line to map out his insights and advice, a leadership fable as the book sleeve describes it. The inside flap goes further: Kathryn Peterson, DecisonTech’s CEO, faces the ultimate leadership crisis: uniting a team that is in such disarray that it threatens to bring down the entire company. Will she succeed? Will she be fired? Will the company fail? Lencioni’s riveting tale serves as a timeless reminder…
Got my attention. And the book got me thinking about some tough tenets of good team dynamics.
The book successively builds a foundation of five core ideas for solid teamwork:
Here’s the breakdown:
Trust – for a team to function, each member has to be willing to expose their own vulnerabilities – weaknesses, mistakes – and each member has to accept those foibles. To suggest there are none is simply not honest, and therefore no trust. And to suggest there are none will quickly become exposed, counterproductive to getting the work done.
Conflict – trust allows for honest discourse, to confront different points of view – “unfiltered and passionate” debate. Let’s be honest, without conflict, something is being left on the table. A successful working team allows for and respects differences of opinion and differing points of view – it’s how you get to a better place.
Commitment – the idea of commitment is not personal commitment, it is an obligation to the objectives of the team, regardless of personal or departmental agendas. I had a client who was building a team from scratch to take on an assignment that was without precedence at his company – a measured yet somewhat risky approach to a new business model. I was the agency lead and at our first team meeting with all internal and external partners present, his first rule was simple: “Leave your ego at the door, we’ve got work to do.” Honest debate in addressing team conflict allows for team buy-in to team goals.
Accountability – the three preceding precepts create an environment of accountability, each team member holding the others accountable for their roles and contributions. Everyone carries the water, everyone does the heavy lifting. No excuses. No byes. And if there is a weak link, when the team has a solid foundation of commitment, it’s OK – and required – to get called out.
Results – the team is measured by the collective results. Not the individual needs. Period. Achieving those results may at times require an individual or a department to step out of the spotlight, at times even making a certain sacrifice for the greater good. After all, that’s why you’re a team. Perhaps that’s where the whole “take one for the team” thing comes from.
I’ve got the book. Bought and paid for. Happy to share. Or we could set up a meeting to talk about it…
Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.