Many of us cringe at the thought of conflict. Disagreements can feel uncomfortable
and sometimes, can damage relationships if not managed accordingly. Avoiding
conversations for the sake of keeping the peace can often have unexpected
consequences and cause issues to become more cumbersome by “kicking the can
down the road.”
When addressed appropriately, conflict can be an asset to teams.
Conflict doesn’t have to be synonymous with arguments and hard feelings. Healthy
dialogue about issues can move teams forward; by illuminating the best ideas and
help colleagues get to know each other better. When managers encourage teams to
respectfully challenge each other in search of the best option, it can have a lot of
benefits. Here are three ways that conflict can make teams better.
Prevent groupthink. Groups that avoid conflict are at risk of not coming up with
productive, creative ideas and therefore, are at risk for underperforming.
Groupthink occurs when team members focus more on keeping the peace than on
finding the best course of action to address the task at hand. Groupthink stymies
good ideas because of the fear getting into a disagreement with colleagues.
Encouraging team members to share their opinions, ask each other good questions,
and discover creative ideas will help the team be more productive and come up with
the best options for delivering results. When team members feel like their ideas will
be considered, they are more likely to participate in the process.
Create opportunities for learning. When teams share diverse perspectives, it
provides the space to learn from each other. Team members have the chance to
experience different ways of thinking in real time. When colleagues are encouraged
to have an open dialogue about ways to an approach a project, they are often
challenged to think about things in new ways. Employees also learn more about
themselves when they are challenged to think deeply about their ideas. When ideas
with other team members, they often learn more about each other as well; they
learn how to work in a way that plays up each other’s strengths and provide support
Encourages a bond among team members. When colleagues share with each other
honestly, it provides the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships. When you get to know someone well, it is easier to understand their point of view, respect them, and be open to different ways of thinking. Engaging in conversations that build trust will help teams work together better and deliver high-quality results.Conflict is not only is it good for teams, it’s also inevitable. Since it’s going to be apart of any team process, it might as well be used to encourage productivity.Leaders can support their team by modeling good communication skills including
listening to all ideas, asking clarifying questions, and affirming contributions.Creating an environment where conflict is normalized will help any time thrive.