I realize that the term “healthy conflict” may sound like an oxymoron, but hear me out. When handled properly, disagreements and opposing ideas can actually pave the way for innovation and creative thinking.
How stagnant would a company grow if the entire team had only way of thinking? Or if the same problem-solving techniques were applied over and over again?
Healthy conflict demonstrates how a team can come together, discuss different ideas and challenge one another in a way that will lead to increased productivity and growth.
As a leader, you can help groom your team to engage in healthy conflict by implementing a few simple tips.
1. Create An Agreement. Discuss ways that team members will address how they will want to deal with conflict if they don’t agree with each other on a matter. Do this openly and make sure to have someone write down what the process is that everyone has agreed upon. Additionally, check for accountability around the agreement. Make sure to evaluate how this agreement is working about every 3-6 months.
2. Acknowledge Strengths. A high-performing team consists of people with different, but complementary knowledge and skill sets. If you notice that a certain team member is an idea man, and another team member is great at organizing – say something! This will reinforce their strengths and encourage them to take more ownership in the areas where they truly shine.
3. Get Out of the Way. This can be very hard to do, but you will be a better leader if you keep your ideas to yourself during the first part of a meeting or brainstorming session with your team. Present your own thoughts too early, and you may inadvertently curb some creativity by influencing the trajectory of the discussion before everyone has a chance to share.
Conflict doesn’t have to be emotional or toxic. If you cultivate an interactive environment where your employees are welcome to disagree and encouraged to talk through differing ideas, healthy conflict can actually be a positive way to boost your team’s efficiency and your company’s bottom line.