Conflict. It seems everyone wants to avoid it if possible. It makes sense. Conflict can be scary for a lot of people who haven’t learned how to disagree with respect and open-mindedness. Yet, I’m asking you to invite it in.
Bottom line: conflict will actually improve team productivity, innovation, and knowledge of a product or process. It’s a big win for a company that can roll out conflict in a positive way.
According to the Harvard Business Review, conflict can:
- Engage employees in meetings increasing the energy in times when the team connects.
- Improves the ideas that are developed and the knowledge around them
- Give a boost to employee morale when you allow everyone to speak their opinion
- Getting through conflict with a team will make them stronger and more connected
Ways to Bring Conflict in Safely
There are specific ways to bring conflict into meetings in a safe way to ensure that everyone is respectful and heard. Here are the tips I teach my clients when inviting in productive conflict:
Offering a set of encouraged behaviors to your team will show them how to have conflict without taking criticism or feedback negatively. The guidelines can include what is and what isn’t expected of meeting behavior.
Stop the conversation if it does not fit in the guidelines.
Calling names or adding in personal jabs is not part of sharing conflict, or at least it doesn’t have to be. These types of behaviors are what make the good ideas hide in the minds of some of your quiet employees. If they see this type of behavior, they will not speak out. It’s important to call out the rules if they are being crossed, or else there isn’t a reason to have them in the first place. This can be hard, and leadership is often just that. Ensure everyone is respected by enforcing the guidelines.
If leadership is not the model of the guidelines, no one will follow them. Ensure the leadership team is on the same page and has the emotional intelligence skills to practice respectfully discussing different ideas in a positive supporting way. At By George Coaching, this is what we do. Call us if you need some help.
When someone has a new idea, or an opposing one, show your team how to offer some non-judgmental questioning. This means being open to the other idea. Be curious about it before dismissing it. There may be pieces that make sense even if the whole of the idea doesn’t fit. It will also help others feel heard, important and contributing to the team.
Ask for everyone’s perspective
That quiet team member in the back of the room may have one of the best ideas that they are afraid to share. When you eliminate the harsh judgment and ask for everyone’s voice to be heard – you might finally hear that one in a million idea. Even if the person doesn’t want to talk in the meeting, you could check in individually to encourage their voice.
Ask for data
While not all possible solutions to a problems will have data available, data can really help people makes solid choices. If there is data available, encourage people to bring it to the table.
Follow up on any leftover emotions or conflict
If you’ve noticed that someone on your team seems emotionally distressed in a conversation or in a conflict, make sure to follow up. Let them know their ideas are welcome even if the team doesn’t choose that option. Clear up any leftover concerns to ensure the team stays connected.
Provide employees with conflict resolution training
If your employees aren’t accustomed to conflict, they may need some additional attention and skills in order to find how they can best express their ideas and be open to others. By George Coaching can help with this. We do workshops and private coaching to teach people how to disagree – respectfully.
Conflict can be a good thing in your business. It can actually bring the team together rather than separate if you know how to invite it in. If you need support, reach out to us. That’s what we are great at. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.