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Healthy Debate & Conflict In The WorkplaceTeam members who trust one another are going to feel comfortable engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate around issues and decisions.

There is a big difference between team members practicing healthy debate and conflict versus avoiding conflict or engaging in conflict that is destructive. During the Five Behaviors facilitation, team members agree to the guidelines and behaviors that would allow for healthy conflict. Leaders are comfortable encouraging healthy debate and conflict as it proves to open opportunities for new and creative ideas to flow for the purpose of problem solving and improving processes. Just imagine a team that can have healthy conflict over ideas and confront issues rather than allowing gossip and hallway whispering to create dissention. When we speak of mastering conflict, we are talking about productive, ideological conflict— passionate, unfiltered debate around issues of importance to the team.

Teams that fear conflict:

  • Have boring meetings
  • Create environments where politics and personal attacks thrive
  • Ignore controversial topics that are critical to team success
  • Fail to tap into all the opinions and perspectives of team members
  • Waste time and energy with posturing and politics

Even among the best teams, conflict is always a little uncomfortable. No matter how clear you are that a conflict is focused on issues, not personalities, it is inevitable that at some point someone will feel personally attacked. It’s unrealistic for a team member to say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with your approach to the project” and not expect the other person to feel some degree of personal rejection. However if team members are not making one another uncomfortable at times, if they never push one another outside of their emotional comfort zones during discussions, it is likely that they’re not making the best overall decisions for the organization.

Tips on mastering conflict:

  • A leader must be willing to engage in and encourage productive conflict.
  • All great relationships, the ones that last over time, require productive conflict in order to grow.
  • It’s important to distinguish productive, ideological conflict from destructive fighting and interpersonal conflicts.
  • Healthy conflict is focused on concepts and ideas and avoids mean-spirited, personal attacks.
  • Teams that engage in productive conflict do so to produce the best possible solution in the shortest time period.

As with all cultural changes, leadership is critical. For a team to be successful, the leader must understand the power of teamwork and be prepared to lead the effort in terms of setting an example and dedicating time to it. It’s important to note that many leaders who seem uninterested in teamwork are often just skeptical about the possibility of achieving it or afraid that acknowledging the need for it might reflect poorly on them. Success is possible as long as team leaders are willing to start and trust the facilitated process.

EDSI’s Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team program is not your usual workplace training. It requires being bold and addressing the issues that get in the way of results. If done properly, it will enable a team to move into higher levels of performance and productivity.

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.

Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.


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