Why healthy conflict is necessary for teams to perform well?

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Most people avoid conflict and feel that it hurts the team. But did you know that by advocating conflict you can actually improve the performance of your team and how they get along? Let’s examine why.

If you encourage your team to challenge each other’s thinking, you are encouraging diversified opinion sets. Exposing the team to a variety of opinions has several advantages.

Advantages of Including Many Opinions

  • It opens up the doors to more creative thinking.
    • Creative ideas are harder for your competitors to copy.
    • A bad idea can have a great component. Additional ideas, even if bad, allow your team to add the best from every idea a-la-carte into a super idea.
  • It puts more options on the table.
    • Vetting out all viable options ensures you don’t miss a great opportunity.
  • It allows everyone to gain a better understanding of the choices and where they fall on the spectrum of realistic versus crazy and high risk versus low risk.
  • It reduces interpersonal conflict because it makes the decision less black and white. A study reveals that the less choices there are, the more likely conflict turns personal, rather than based in the issues as it should be.

However, in order to be effective, you must know how to manage the conflict appropriately. 

How to Manage the Conflict

  • Do a fun activity before the idea storm begins, that way everyone is in a good mood before you start. When people are in a good mood they bring down their defenses, are more open minded, and listen better.
  • Have your team bring all of the data to the table in order to make a decision. If you find that you don’t have all the facts and are guessing or speculating, decide to reconvene when you do.
  • Establish a common goal together that’s framed positively rather than negatively. For example, to do something than to not do something that opposes another option on the table.
  • Amp up the excitement and de-emphasize the stress.
  • Create opportunities for your team to bond outside of work. Knowing your co-workers better helps to diffuse misunderstandings and reduce the likelihood of outlashes.
  • Let the whole team make the decision when possible. If the team cannot come to a decision, then have the most senior person make the final decision, but only after everyone has been heard.
  • Don’t let deadlines force you to sacrifice fairness in the decision-making process, that way the team will support your final decision. This means letting everyone have an equal opportunity to share their say. Even if you choose an opposing decision, the team will be more likely to adopt your decision if the process was fair.

In conclusion, by diversifying your team and encouraging them to put forth opposing opinions and alternative solutions will increase conflict. However, conflict shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing that you want to avoid. Instead conflict can be considered a tool to increase our understanding the world and come up with better solutions and ideas, but only if managed properly. Use these tips to help increase and improve conflict in your team to work to your advantage.

 

Sources:

Eisenhardt, Kathleen M., Jean L. Kahwajy, and L.J. III Bourgeois. “How management teams can have a good fight.” Harvard Business Review 75.4 (1997): 77+. Business Insights: Essentials. Web. 2 Oct. 2017. http://bi.galegroup.com.libproxy1.usc.edu/essentials/article/GALE%7CA20025362? u=usocal_main

 

 

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