Is lack of conflict a challenge in your team?
On the surface lack of conflict sounds like a good thing, but often it’s a sign of either apathy or of team members suppressing their disagreements.
Is apathy a challenge for you?:
If any of these questions rings true to you, it might be time to check if your engagement can be re-built. Or, if not, look for another role or another job. For inspiration on how to re-build engagement, consider visiting Challenges & Actions for SHARED RESULTS.
Another possible challenge is that you deliberately avoid expressing disagreement. Is this true for you?:
We all lose a little energy every time we ignore important disagreements. So, if any of the above statements are true for you, solving this can help you win back some energy and motivation.
Pick only one or two areas to work with, and then work your way from there. Start with challenges where the following criteria apply:
If your team has a history for suppressing disagreement you must be patient. And instead of bashing out with all your views and opinions, it’s often better to start with a few open questions, hoping that one or more team colleagues react.
Examples of good open questions are:
It’s a good idea to prepare yourself, and to be ready if someone asks for your personal opinions on these questions – but try to wait until someone asks you.
If is a new habit that the team needs to build, you will need to repeat your efforts.
A practical way to deal with lack of conflict is to practice discussing controversial issues in the team.
It’s important to create positive experiences where everyone feel that it is safe to disagree, so you should not start with the most controversial subject possible.
Instead, look for an issue that’s not too sensitive and start there. Later, you can work your way up to more painful issues.
A few ground rules are:
If possible, test your approach with a trusted peer before testing it in the full team. You can also consider making an alliance with the leader of the team (if you are not the leader) and get acceptance to put the issue on the agenda in a team meeting.
Is aggressive conflict a challenge in your team?
Aggressive conflict distracts the team by removing focus from the more important issues, and it undermines team collaboration.
If you are part of these conflicts start by analyzing your own role. Try to be as objective as possible:
When looking for solutions, remember that disagreements are fundamentally healthy as they often spark new ideas. So, your aim is not to suppress disagreements – rather to find a healthier format of disagreement.
As you can see from the list of questions, conflicts can stem from many different causes, and therefore good solutions will vary. Consider your analysis of your role in the clashes – and then pick the best advice below:
Consider if the challenge can be tracked down to one, or a few individuals, who repeatedly ca distractions and waste the time and energy of the team.
If this is the case, you can approach the problem in two ways: “In-meeting” or “person-to-person”. In-meeting: Often clashes can be managed if people who are not engaged in the conflict interferes as the clash occurs. Consider questions or comments such as:
Person-to-person: If the challenge is tied to a specific individual, or the same two people, it might be an idea to arrange a meeting outside of the team setting to freshen the air.
If you are not the leader of the team, or don’t have the direct authority on the topics of clashes, consider teaming up with a peer or with your leader.
Start by asking open questions into a recent conflict. If needed, mention how you experienced the clash, and why you found it disturbing. Refrain from blaming or being emotional – a rational approach is more impactful.
If possible, try to get agree on some ground rules to avoid clashes, and get explicit permission to interfere if needed.