Promoting conflict in your team

Promoting conflict in your team

31 Jul 15:00 by John Neal


Whether we have been furloughed, or asked to work from home, we have been spending more time alone or with our families. We have become webinar superstars and found new and innovative ways to stay connected with the rest of our teams and customers.

Yes some have found the WFH thing easier than others, as we all have a different back story. The thought of having virtual meetings from our front room or bedroom has taken some real adjustment but we have done it. We have found ways to stay connected and I am hearing, that in many cases, the lockdown restrictions have enhanced how we communicate within our teams.

Personally, when I look back at these strange times, I will remember how they provided me with the rare opportunity to reflect on my personal and working life. I have been super creative and have developed a higher level of resilience and personal discipline. I now celebrate my inputs as well as my outputs and reward myself as and when required.

The relationship with my colleagues has flourished as we have been driven into developing an interdependent relationship where we all feel comfortable presenting our thoughts and feelings, allowing us to solve problems quickly, developing strong solutions. This feels great, as I completely 'buy in' to the solution because I have been directly involved in its development. 

We have learnt how to build conflict into our decision-making process, and it has brought us closer together. We have realised that conflict generates creativity in problem-solving, which has had to occur for us to reach mutual agreements.

But hang on a minute!

Haven't we always been told that conflict in teams is not a good thing? It's viewed as negative, disruptive, hostile and ultimately win or lose in its outcome?

We train our people to manage conflict effectively, not embrace it. But if we do not include conflict, within the innovative thinking process, we will only have a 'groupthink' where everyone has different ideas but fails to present them for whatever reason, whether it be functionality, politically or personally derived.

Does this sound all too familiar?

Does your team struggle to reach conclusions that are shared by the entire group?

Is this being exaggerated by working in isolation?

Well, if you have tentatively answered the last three questions with a 'yes', then perhaps it's time to re-think and redesign the team dynamic to positively encourage constructive conflict in team decision-making and problem-solving. The benefits are endless but to make those cultural changes will take time and a lot of hard work.

It all starts with our behaviour as individuals within a team environment. We have our own drivers and values, which can support the team or adversely create functionality gaps. It will help to have a common goal or team purpose (including values) that everyone is working towards and embraces everything they do.

Setting clear expectations will galvanise the team and empower those who disagree to work it out without your involvement. How well do you know your team? Would individual and team behavioural assessment provide you with an objective foundation to build upon?

Our culture is the heartbeat of our organisation and if we want it to be healthy and inclusive, you need healthy conflict. You cannot have one without the other.

I will leave you with this thought. Imagine the team with no finger pointing because it has been replaced with perceiving, understanding and respecting where others are coming from. Where values like trust, respect and collaboration are intricately woven into the very fabric of your organisation.

Isn't it now, more than ever, that we need that?

The author, John Neal is Head of Learning and Development with Maytrix Group Ltd and is passionate about positive behaviour in the workspace.  If you would like further insight or support, please contact us at info@maytrixgroup.com 

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