Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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Getting your team over the 1st Dysfunction

ra Ss
ofa TEAM

More often than not, I hear horror stories from the workplace. 

Once you get behind the public face of an organization, and back behind the green curtain, the stories emerge.

Dysfunctional teams.

Broken bosses.

Low performance.

Non-existent passion.

Toxic environments.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

In his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni describes a five tiered model for building high performance teams.  In his exceptional gift as a story teller, we follow the character Katherine Petersen as she takes over the reigns of a struggling technology company.  You will likely recognize the characters as you read this short book, and by the time you finish the story, you will have a much better appreciation of the five dysfunctions that cause teams, even the best ones, to struggle.


Even if you are not a "reader", invest the time in this book.  I have given away several copies to my Managers and Directors.  If you only read one book this year, make it this one!  Am I clear that I'm a big fan?

Hopefully you've ordered your copy of the book by now, and while you are waiting for it to arrive, here's a sneak preview of the first dysfunction to overcome: Absence of Trust.  This is fundamental to any relationship, and especially to high performance teams.

You can not expect optimum results from your team if they do not fundamentally trust the motives of both the other team members, and you. The challenge is that team members typically interact only around the work, they make judgments based on the other member's performance in delivering their part of the project. They don't necessarily know the person - their strengths, their challenges, their history, their motivators.

When I started as CIO at my previous position, I booked an hour with each of my full time team members.  Since there were over 100 people on the list, I was told I was nuts. (Sidenote: you have to be a bit crazy to do well as a CIO).  I sent the team my brief background and 3 questions to consider for the conversation:

- What is working really well around here? (This allowed them to brag a bit about the projects they were working on.

- If you were the CIO, what are 2 things you would change? (Without asking for a b*tch session, this would help me uncover the pain points from the people in the trenches)

- What do you do when you are not at work? (I wanted to know their passions - what they poured energy into when they weren't being paid)

- The bonus question was: do you have any questions for me?

All of the team came prepared with great responses, and great questions for me.  Some came in with several pages of notes.  They obviously spent a considerable period of time thinking about their answers.

One of the striking themes of the meetings was the appreciation that I would take time to listen to them, and care about more than their job).  These meetings were foundational in building the trust I needed to lead them through some challenges and change.  The value of these meetings in building the trust needed to be reinforced by subsequent actions and activities, but they were a great way to start.

We made extensive use of evaluative tools such as Strengths Finder 2.0 to help team members discover the areas of activity where they would be energized and thrive, and actually changed some job descriptions to address key institutional needs by having the right person in place delivering those services. (How often do you find "customer service representatives" that should be nowhere near any interaction with actual people?)

This blog is a catchment area for my ramblings, and I have much more to say on this subject, and will, but not now.

So consider how you'll start building trust in your team.

Don't give up... this is the first in a series of five dysfunctions.  You have a long way to go, but once you start working on trust, you should see some very tangible and positive results.

BTW, If you've read the book, I could really, really identify with Martin.


Note: A version of this post has been previously published on my blog.

Images:, Table Group. Used under Creative Commons License

About the Author:

I’m the Chief Information Officer for Appleby College, in Oakville, Ontario Canada, where my team is transforming the delivery of education through innovative application of technology. I'm also a beBee Brand Ambassador.

I'm convinced that IT leadership needs to dramatically change how IT is delivered rather than being relegated to a costly overhead department.

In addition to transforming IT in my role as CIO, I look for every opportunity to talk about this... writing, speaking and now blogging on BeBee ( , LinkedIn, ITWorld Canada, or at

I also shoot things... with my camera. Check out my photostream at 

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Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #13

This topic has come up a number of times in conversation this week. Resharing this one from my archives.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #12

A few more opinions at a profit and I could buy a ticket to Oz.

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #11

Your Canuck $0.02 worth would appear to be currently worth Aussie $0.0202, so I'll take your advice and pocket a 1% brain storming profit. 💰🤔

Mohammed Abdul Jawad

5 years ago #10

Some companies seriously worry about daily cash flow, productivity and collection dues, and when it comes to employees benefits and their well being, they'll least bother.

Mohammed Abdul Jawad

5 years ago #9

Yep...we oftentimes hear about workplaces where teams become all disintegrated, reckless bosses who are unmindful of their subordinates, and even employees' performance ranks low. With such typical divided culture, nothing turns impressive except toxic attitude in disunity.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #8

Thanks Paul. You are absolutely right. It is common sense presented in a way that you believe can actually be applied to your organization (unlike most leadership books).

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #7

No kickback from the author on that book Ken, although I've certainly contributed to his retirement fund based on all the copies of the book I have purchased. When I've done turn-arounds of IT departments, it would seem that the solution offered to me was to hire more staff because they were so busy. I've found that more people doing the wrong things doesn't turn around a department, but to adjust the skills mix of the team (which involves training as well as some hiring and unhiring), and to implement some core planning tools so that people are working on the right things, which usually means changing processes, equipment and other things. My Canadian $0.02

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #6

Thanks Sarah. I get rave reviews from all I've recommended the book to... I trust you will enjoy and learn from it.

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #5

Looks like some interesting reading, Kev. Another post of yours that I almost missed, due to a hyperbolic increase in producers and the absence of the long promised obvious 'STING' solution. I'll be ordering a copy based on your recommendation, and on the assumption that you aren't getting a kick-back from the author. 😂 Funnily enough, the throttle for change with the organisation where I work tends to be the IT department. If anyone asked me the two things I'd address to achieve better change management it would be the following: 1. Increase staff numbers in IT; and 2. Ensure IT development operates without being distracted onto operational patch-ups such as "why's my screen not working?" Sound familiar, Kev?

Sarah Elkins

5 years ago #4

That looks like a good book, Kevin Pashuk, I'll order it today. That trust stuff is tricky, don't you think? It's something that can be built among people; and is easily & quickly lost through miscommunication and lack of follow up. Too many people ask the right questions, but then do nothing with the answers they receive. I'll let you know my thoughts on the book after reading it!

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #3

Thanks Paul. The model in the book is a great framework for team discussions using a variety of personality assessment tools.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #2

Thank you Fatima. The book is a much better read than my meager post.

🐝 Fatima G. Williams

5 years ago #1

Kevin Pashuk An excellent read and valuable takeways. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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