Avoiding Conflict Could Be Costing Your Team

Conflict is natural

It’s probably pretty safe to say most of us have been in teams or organizations where we’ve had conflict with the people that we’re working with around the ideas or decisions that we’re discussing. I certainly have.

Conflict is natural. We all bring different life and work experiences to the table. We all have different personality preferences and tendencies. We’re not all going to have the same ideas on how to approach policies, programs or problems.

But too often we get caught in this place where conflict is perceived to be negative – something we want to avoid so that we can maintain the harmony of our work place. This could be because some people want to avoid conflict at all costs, after all they still have to work together. It could be because some team members feel that they haven’t been heard in the past. The team could be pushing to make a quick decision and perhaps doesn’t want to deal with lengthy discussions. But this kind of artificial harmony isn’t the answer. Let me repeat that.

Artificial Harmony isn’t the answer

Productive conflict is a vital part of teams and organizations that want to push forward and do more. Without conflict, we’re often stuck in this artificial harmony where people don’t express potentially innovative ideas for fear that they may start conflict with others.

But if you’re in a place where you have a basis of trust, conflict can be extremely productive. It can lead to increased innovation and greater trust on teams. It may be an uncomfortable process, but good leaders and healthy teams recognize that productive and healthy conflict is an important part of how they function.

Creating ground rules

One way to bring some more comfort into the process of conflict is to sit down as a team and create ground rules for how you’re going to engage in conflict. Having that discussion before sitting down to make decisions can make the process slightly less uncomfortable. Conflict can be emotional process and as a team, you need to decide how you’re going to approach it.

So fear not, conflict is a natural part of being a team. Take some steps to make it less uncomfortable. Make it a regular part of your team process and it will help in the long run. Leverage your conflict to make your team better.

For more advice and thoughts on the topic of healthy conflict, check out this article from the Society for Human Resource Management: Click Here


Samantha Kerrigan