Make your team comfortable with productive conflict to get the best results in the shortest time
When was the last time your team had a heated debate? How comfortable is your team with conflict? Who is wasting energy by avoiding disagreement? Today's guest blog, by Creative Coaching's friend and associate Melissa Mehta, explores practical ways of being more comfortable with the conflict that's crucial to your team's success.
When I was new and green, a PR agency asked me to help them work out their purpose and mission. Way out of my depth, I set up my post-it notes and white board pens with a silent (and stultifying) prayer: ‘Don’t disagree with each other’. I had no idea how I would deal with any conflict that might arise.
Fear of conflict is a paralysing agent. Here's what I wish I'd known back then.
We humans have a tendency to want to be right, stay safe and avoid uncertainty. Engaging in conflict feels risky and is vital for exploring a different way of doing things. This is how change happens, and without it we can’t progress. The more comfortable we can be with conflict, the easier it is to harness its power.
In his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni says:
“Unfortunately, conflict is considered taboo in many situations, especially at work. And the higher you go up the management chain, the more you find people spending inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to avoid the kind of passionate debates that are essential to any team.”
So, if that’s all true, how do we encourage productive conflict?
Shift thinking (yours and theirs)….
Here’s what you need to think and talk about with your team (you might even want to share this post with them):
Shift behaviour (yours and theirs)….
Once you and your team are convinced of the benefits of embracing productive conflict, what's next? Here are some practical ways Lencioni suggests to help ease into the discomfort.
As for the PR Agency gig, my facilitation instincts kicked in and I trusted the power of the group. I made sure everyone felt able to engage, there was healthy debate. It did get messy and the resolution was sweet and powerful. Now, I get excited when I see different opinions emerging. Moving towards ideological conflict is where the juicy learning and change happens.
Melissa is right, learning and change happen when teams find new ways to communicate. It's something I've seen frequently with clients we've supported to build trust within their teams.
If you’d like to talk about how your team could better embrace productive conflict, to get the best results in the shortest time, please reach out to email@example.com.
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