Your team needs productive conflict (video transcript)
Conflict. The minute you hear the word, you get uncomfortable. You just don’t want to go there. But embracing productive conflict is your fifth responsibility as a team member. Some teams have no conflict at all. You may think that sounds great, but it’s a big problem.
Teams that don’t have conflict have learning curves that are really flat. They also aren’t very creative, and they never see risk coming. If you’re on a team that’s not having any conflict, give yourself a shake. You need to broaden and deepen the discussion.
Other teams have conflict, it’s just hidden, not out in the open. Everyone nods their heads while they’re sitting around the table. But once the meeting’s over, that’s when the gossip and backstabbing starts. Maybe one person quietly shirks his commitments and fails to take action. Perhaps multiple people are gossiping and betraying one another’s trust.
Unfortunately, team leaders are frequently involved in passive aggressive behavior. They allow team members to come to them to reopen discussions and to overturn decisions outside of the meeting.
If your team is engaged in passive aggressive behavior, you have got to get the issue on the agenda. You’ve got to find a legitimate place for dissent to surface. If you’re conflict avoidant, you’re not living up to your responsibility to add your full value. If you think you’re taking one for the team by keeping your mouth shut and going along, you’re wrong. You have got to embrace productive conflict.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you can disagree with your teammate without them having to be wrong. The whole concept is that there can be two truths, your truth and their truth, and neither one is right or wrong. That’s a really important way to have more productive conflict.
Imagine a conflict you’re having right now. You’re focused on what the truth is for you, from your point of view. Push yourself to think about what is the truth for them. How are they seeing the situation? When you can actually lift yourself up above the conflict, that’s where the solutions are going to come. That’s much more productive.
When you stop thinking there can only be one person who’s right, when you start looking at both sides of an argument, that’s when you have a chance to create a solution.
Productive conflict is critical to teams. It’s what creates innovation. It’s what drives growth. When you change the way you approach conflict, you’ll change your team.