What would happen if your team had more frequent, robust conflict?

...you'd likely be a more inclusive, creative and effective team. It’s the emotional hijacking that occurs in the face of conflict that gives conflict it’s bad name, unconsciously focusing us more on protecting ‘me’ rather than enabling ‘we’.

Productive conflict intentionally diffuses emotion, creating space for challenge and new thinking. It invites equal contribution to ensure the best, not just the loudest thinking emerges. Productive conflict is diversity in action.

Here are 4 tips to help you build more productive conflict in your teams:

  • Ensure there’s a common goal – individuals need a reason to be augmenting not competing

  • Focus on the issue not the person – depersonalising conflict removes the heat. Focus first on the facts and gain a shared understanding of the problem then move forward to cogenerate the as yet un-revealed collective solutions

  • Enable psychological safety – create safety by collectively agreeing the ground rules ie. what language is in and out (equal contribution may be ‘in’ and talking over the top of each other ‘out’). Have collectively agreed consequences for not complying, regardless of who breaks the rules.

  • Lose attachment to being right - be curious, sometimes you might have the best solution, at other times the wisdom will sit with others.

If there was ever a time for new thinking it is now. We will not solve today’s problems with the same thinking that created them and there is no substitute for the creative energy of a thriving team.

If you need help, our ‘Building a Thriving Team’ and ‘Leaning into Conflict’ programs may be just what you need for resilient teams in ‘21.


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