Can arguing actually be a sign of a highly functional team?
By all means —as long as you have trust. Once team members are comfortable being vulnerable with each other, they can become even stronger by mastering the art of conflict. The fact is conflict that occurs within an environment of trust means that team members are engaging in an open, constructive discussion of ideas. It helps teams – and companies – grow.
The result: More creativity. More productivity. Better results.
Good vs. Bad Conflict – Different types of conflict can give different results. Healthy conflict encourages growth, while unhealthy conflict—which can occur in a hidden way or in the form of an explosive attack—leads to dysfunction.
These various styles all live within a conflict continuum:
- Hidden conflict, or unnatural harmony, occurs when teams who are afraid of conflict actively work to avoid it.
- Constructive conflict is healthy discussion that focuses on issues and topics, not on people or their character.
- Conversations keep their integrity, encourage self-awareness, and ensure team members are comfortable by adhering to pre-established guidelines (for instance, no foul language).
- Destructive conflict involves personal attacks on people rather than constructive conversations over issues. It’s mean-spirited and unproductive.
Why Your Team Needs Conflict – Most leaders and managers spend too much time trying to steer teams away from the passionate debates that often lead to conflict. In the long run, forcing people to suppress their opinions ends up causing dysfunction rather than harmony. And that’s not all. A team that is afraid of conflict:
- Tends to have boring meetings
- Typically ignores controversial topics that are necessary to success
- Fails to tap into the opinions and views of every team member
- Creates environments where personal attacks thrive
- Wastes time and energy on office politics
Sounds like a pretty dismal picture, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you rather have a team that engages in conflict, and that:
- Tends to have lively, interesting meetings
- Always puts necessary topics on the table for discussion
- Encourages and benefits from the opinions and views of every team member
- Solves real problems quickly
- Minimizes office politics
How to Add Conflict to Your Team – People are inherently uncomfortable with conflict, which means that the first step to promoting productive conflict among your team is simply by acknowledging that constructive conflict is a good thing that increases productivity, not problems.
Once your team members accept the idea of engaging in healthy conflict, you’ll start tapping into a variety of fresh perspectives and opinions. And when everything is on the table, the team can feel more confident in making decisions and developing action plans – and in the end, get more done. After all, isn’t that the whole point?
Leaders with the most impact are those who can build and successfully manage great teams. Every day, we help our clients and colleagues achieve their highest levels of professional presence and personal effectiveness. That includes everyone on the ladder, from company presidents to project managers, to staff members. Contact us at 800-282-3374 to find out how we can help you impact your own productivity and the productivity of your entire organization.
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