Central Perk of dysfunctional teams: The one where small business fails

F.R.I.E.N.D.S cast

A small business trying to build a team without trust, commitment, and accountability is like Ross without his dinosaurs, Rachel without her shopping or Phoebe without her guitar.

In other words, it’s a recipe for disaster. In fact, teams without the three core principles can become dysfunctional. With teams made up of individuals with varied interests, strengths and weaknesses there is bound to be employees who don’t mould together.

Even the most well-intentioned people can slip into unproductive and unhealthy behaviour – it’s just human behaviour. It’s only natural. So how do small businesses overcome this problem? How can you build a successful team to make your business grow further?

Five mistakes to watch out for when assembling a team

As a CEO at Brooks Australia, with over a decade of experience leading firms from different industries and size, I’ve been part of my share of teams. Well, fear not! Today, we’re here to dissect the biggest mistakes small businesses make when assembling their team by using Patrick Lencioni’s “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, using one of the most famous teams – Friends. So, grab your Central Perk coffee and get ready for a team-building adventure!

The Chandler Bing Syndrome: Lack of Trust

How to build success-oriented teams for small businesses

Just like Chandler Bing’s witty sarcasm served as a defence mechanism, his lack of trust stems from a fear of vulnerability. Chandler struggles to open up and share his true thoughts and feelings. Whether it’s in The One Where Chandler Can’t Commit to The One with Chandler’s Dad, he often resorts to humour to deflect any real connection.

Similarly, in a team environment, a lack of trust hinders open communication and collaboration, preventing team members from fully engaging and sharing their ideas. Essentially, without trust, team members are unlikely to seek help or share information with each other – one of the most important aspects you need from a team.

But just like Chandler gradually learns to trust his friends, building trust within a team requires vulnerability and a willingness to let down one’s guard. Only by fostering trust can teams unlock their full potential and thrive in a supportive and cohesive environment.

The Ross Geller Effect: Fear of Conflict

How to build success-oriented teams for small businesses

Ah, Ross Geller—the master of suppressing conflict until it becomes an erupting volcano. And yes, we know which situation we’re talking about. But taking a step away from that, avoiding conflict in a small business can be just as disastrous as one of Ross’ marriages – too harsh?

While healthy disagreements are essential for growth, innovation and the ability to develop practical solutions, members afraid of conflict tend to avoid difficult conversations leading to a lack of accountability and commitment – like Ross when he was NOT on a break with Rachel.

Instead, embrace the joyous and seemingly carefree spirit of Joey Tribbiani and his infamous catchphrase, “How you doin’?” to encourage your team members to express their opinions and challenge assumptions so you can unleash the true potential of your team.

The Joey Tribbiani Syndrome: Lack of Commitment

How to build success-oriented teams for small businesses

Joey Tribbiani may have been charming but his commitment to long-term relationships was as fleeting as his cameo appearances. Similarly, small businesses often struggle with a lack of commitment from members. Without a sense of purpose, the team can become a collection of individuals going through the motions and aren’t fully invested in the team’s objectives.

To avoid this syndrome, foster a strong vision and ensure every team member understands and is committed to achieving it. Remember, teamwork makes the dream work!

The Pheobe Buffay Paradox: Avoiding Accountability

How to build success-oriented teams for small businesses

Phoebe Buffay isn’t the first character in the classic TV series that comes to mind when you think about avoiding accountability – in fact you probably wouldn’t think she fits any of these five areas. But when you dig deeper, past the comedic side of the show, Pheobe’s fear of conflict often leads her to sidestep taking responsibility for her actions or decisions.

Remember when Phoebe is entrusted with watching Ben? But he gets lost in the city and she deflects her negligence by making jokes and downplaying the issue. It’s the same for teams.

This avoidance of accountability can hinder the team’s progress and prevent open and honest communication. Missed deadlines or poor performance creates an environment of lack of trust, resentment, fear of conflict and lack of commitment. Instead, the same standards should apply to everyone in the team to ensure everyone is held accountable to their actions.

The Rachel Green Syndrome: Inattention to Results

How to build success-oriented teams for small businesses

Remember Rachel’s fashion career journey? At times, she prioritised her personal growth over the success of her team. Similarly, small businesses can stumble by focusing more on individual accomplishments rather than collective results. This can lead to a team becoming disengaged, having a lack of motivation and productivity and eventually a high team turnover.

Foster a culture where everyone is aligned with the team’s goals and working towards a shared vision. Encourage collaboration, celebrate milestones together, and channel your inner Rachel, discovering the power of teamwork beyond personal aspirations. Building an effective team is no easy task but armed with the right wisdom and a touch of pop culture references, you can steer clear of the pitfalls and create a team dynamic worthy of a spin-off sitcom.

By embracing the quirks of your team members, just like the lovable Friends characters and having a commitment to overcoming the dysfunctions, your small business can ultimately transform into a powerhouse of collaboration, innovation, and success no matter where you might be in the world. And remember, the journey to building a strong team is a marathon, not a sprint. Be like Monica and Chandler, but not Joey – if you know, you know.

And as the end credits roll, you’ll have built a team that not only achieves greatness but also shares laughs, supports one another, and creates lasting memories—just like our favourite sitcoms. So, get ready to write your own team-building storyline, and remember, “We were on a break” from dysfunctional teams, and we’ll never go back!

Cathy Brand is the CEO at Brooks Australia.