The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
This post is intended for our soon-to-become trainers at the Focus Personal Training Institute, but it’s equally applicable to anyone involved with teams, or any type of relationship, really. In “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” Patrick Lencioni does a wonderful job of highlighting the stages through which every relationship must go in order to achieve success – regardless of how that success is defined:
As trainers, we tend to focus on the technical aspects of exercise – because, well, this is what we love. But overlooking the importance of the trainer-client relationship is a big mistake. Fostering our relationships with our clients is equally if not more important when it comes to getting results. According to the book, results will ultimately come after a series of crucial steps:
Step 1: Establishing Trust
Trust forms the foundation of any good relationship, including that between a trainer and a client. But as important as trust is, it’s something that’s hard to gain yet easy to lose. It will take different strategies and different amounts of time to establish trust with different clients, but open and honest communication is usually a common thread. Trainers can’t forget to have regular candid conversations with their clients in order to establish and build trust, and always follow through when they say they’re going to do things. This includes offering support not only during times of success, but also when the road to success gets rocky. When clients fall off track, great trainers get them back on for the sheer reason that those clients trust that they have their best interest in mind when giving advice. On the same token, great trainers never promise what they don’t know they can deliver, as this is the fastest way to break a client’s trust.
Step 2: Working Through Conflict
Times of conflict are inevitable in every relationship, and the trainer-client relationship is no different. But this can actually be a good thing, and may be seen as a sign of trust. When clients are not afraid to question your methods or openly discuss with you the problems that they are facing with their exercise programs, it’s usually because they trust that you will work with them to find a solution rather than taking offense and putting your own ego ahead of their success. Working through conflicts with clients enhances communication, builds trust and ultimately makes the relationship stronger.
Step 3: Making a Commitment
Healthy conflict is necessary for both trainer and client to make a firm commitment to achieving a goal together. If one partner feels that his or her views, opinions or problems have not been considered by the other, he or she is unlikely to really commit to the program. Without full commitment to the program, attainment of the end goal is unlikely. One party (usually the client) typically ends the relationship before it can be achieved, either giving up on the goal or attempting to achieve it alone or with another trainer. Clients won’t always be upfront about why they stop training, but it often boils down to a lack of communication and conflict that prevented true commitment.
Step 4: Accepting Accountability
Without fully buying into and committing to a program, it’s hard for a client to accept accountability for a lack of adherence to it. It’s always easier to blame the program (or the trainer). Similarly, we trainers often blame our clients for lack of commitment and adherence to our programs. But this is a lose-lose situation: No one feels successful because results are not achieved. But if both trainer and client commit to the goal together and hold one another accountable for their respective roles in achieving that goal, results can be achieved. On the same token, if the parties share accountability when things are not going as planned, the two can usually work together to find an alternate road to results.
Step 5: Achievement of Results
Results should always be kept as the focus of training. At the end of the day, the job of a personal trainer is to get his or her clients to see the results that they want, regardless of what their goals may be or what must be done to help them achieve those goals. This is why goals remain essential to what we do as trainers: Our clients’ results are our successes.
That pretty much sums up the message in “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team;” but I still highly recommend reading the book. It’s an easy read and contains a great story to elucidate the message. You can pick it up HERE.