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That’s right, you heard me: conflict as an advantage! Wouldn’t it be great to be able to channel all that energy and passion invested in conflict so that it yields a positive outcome? We’re used to thinking about conflict as bad, negative, unhelpful, dysfunctional, decidedly undesirable. But not all conflicts are created equal and some are downright helpful.

If conflict is relationship-based or focused on the personal characteristics or communication style of a member of your team or any individual, that would be the type that is unproductive and even dysfunctional. Taking the conflict to a personal level is never helpful.

However, if the conflict is focused on ideas, tasks, or processes, then having your team engaged in what we could call functional or productive conflict, ie the exchange (even a heated one) of differing points of view, regarding the way to accomplish a task, set out a process, or put priorities in order of importance, could be of great benefit!

Task-conflict or process-conflict are not personal. Thus, when your team engages in these types of functional or productive conflict the result includes:

  • More viewpoints
  • Diverse viewpoints
  • More options
  • Higher quality solutions
  • A greater sense of collaboration as the debate may fuel additional new ideas and solutions
  • Creative thinking

Trust is Key in Team Building

So how do we achieve this wondrous and productive state of Functional Conflict? The key is to ensure you’ve created a climate of trust among your team so that all members of the team are at ease expressing their thoughts and ideas. You can refer back to my previous article on strategies to help build a solid base of trust on your team. When everyone knows the rules of engagement and that it’s safe to say “I don’t agree!”, that’s when everyone has permission to share and explore ideas!

Strategies to get more Comfortable with Conflict

Here are five strategies you can implement with your team (after you’ve worked on that critical preliminary Trust piece) to set the stage for more creative solution-finding, improving operational efficiencies in every department and a generally heightened state of well-being on your team:

  1. Agree upon rules of engagement for discussion in meetings, including behaviours that all agree are acceptable.
  2. Thank others for their ideas and perspectives.
  3. Apologize for inappropriate behaviour (taps into vulnerability-based trust).
  4. Speak up when something is bothering you about what’s being discussed.
  5. Whiteboard different points of view and their pros and cons to help everyone follow the discussion.
5 ways to embrace conflict with your team infographic

Looking for More Detail on Team Building?

There are plenty of team models and strategies out there to help improve teamwork. One of the best known and most widely-researched and proven is The Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team™. If you would like to know more about the The Five Behaviors model and how you can leverage it to unleash the power of teamwork, let me know and I’ll be glad to register you for one of our upcoming complimentary virtual showcases on Tuesday September 15 or Tuesday October 13, 2020, 10:00 am to 11:00 am PST.

In this virtual showcase, you will:

  • Learn about the powerful and unique Five Behaviors model, its groundbreaking approach to team development, and how it can be leveraged to unlock the power of teamwork in your organization at all levels
  • Preview The Five Behaviors Personal Development solution
  • Receive a complimentary Personal Development assessment and personalized profile

Good luck implementing some (or ALL!) of these strategies to help your team kick dysfunctional conflict to the curb while seizing all the benefits of productive, functional conflict to become an even more cohesive, creative and high-performing team! I’d love to hear how it works out and what outcomes you’ve seen after trying them out. Get in touch with me to share your story or leave a note in the comments!

If you’re dealing with urgent team-dynamic issues that you need help or advice with you can book a call right away to discuss possible solutions or even explore coaching as an option.