How to Benefit From Healthy Conflicts
Conflicts are an interesting phenomenon at the workplace – you either have too many of them or you have none at all. Neither of them is healthy for an organization as they act as roadblocks to innovation. Yet, every organization has its fair share of conflicts (or lack of it). For a leader, it’s quite challenging and puzzling when you’re caught in the midst of such situations. Either you have a room full of people who agree with everything you say, or they’re hell-bent on disagreeing with you just to prove you wrong. And again, in either case there’s truly no winning situation nor is it productive for your organization.
There are a few workable solutions to make the most out of conflicts. A balance of healthy conflict and a certain level of agreement is what you need to strike to ensure things move along smoothly. Here’s how you can facilitate the process and ensure you’re able to extract the most from your team.
1. Respect Differences
There’s much wisdom in accepting that every individual in a team offers a unique perspective, opinion, skill and solution. Avoid imposing your influence or authority and allow people the opportunity to speak up and contribute their point of views. When you’re able to accept differing ideas and concepts you’re allowing yourself to dwell in grey areas which you could benefit greatly from, rather than remaining in black and white. Also, by respecting differences you’ll have a better understanding of how to manage conflicts rather than avoiding it altogether.
2. Not Always the Master of Your Domain
Sure you’re confident and being a subject matter expert you feel as if others don’t truly know or understand your point of view. There’s a good chance you’re right as well. But what if you’re not. What if you’re overlooking something that your team member has spotted and you’re letting your ego get in the way of logical, rational thinking. Even the best and most skilled of us has the tendency to make mistakes or miss out on an important detail. It’s ok to admit that we made a mistake. And it’s ok if we have to rethink or revisit our strategy, plan or chosen solution. Sometimes we just need to go back give it another look and come back stronger.
3. Develop a Culture That Values People
During times of conflict people often feel alienated, insecure and question their value to the organization. As their leader, your job is to act as their rock and look out for each and every member of the team, ensuring their confidence isn’t shaken up too much. A great way to do this is remaining unbiased and respecting everyone’s opinion (point number 2). Remember you’re the bridge that holds all together, so you can’t be taking sides here. Hear everyone out and reassure them of the value you give to their opinion. Give the conflicting parties ample opportunities to state their mind in a professional and productive manner. Whatever the outcome or resolution you all arrive at, make sure it’s one where everyone comes out respecting and valuing each other, even if they don’t agree with it.
4. Silence Isn’t a Resolution
Some organizations don’t merely have enough healthy conflicts. Though the word may have a negative connotation, it’s not always undesirable to engage in conflict. And that’s why having a room full of yes-man isn’t going to help you succeed. As their leader it’s your responsibility to fuel and encourage debate and conflict. You want to ensure whatever path or strategy the organization takes is one with consent, willingness and commitment from everyone involved. To do this set a rule that silence is simply disagreement. Everyone has to say something (in favor or against) a decision so that there’s healthy debate and the idea is viewed in detail.
What’s interesting about conflicts is that they can damage or unify a team of talented individuals. The best leaders among you will carefully navigate their way through conflicts and rise triumphant, even if it means they have to implement a solution that they don’t agree with. And that’s because great leaders know it’s not about them, but the interest of the organization. In most cases healthy conflicts can be highly productive and beneficial for organizations, if it’s engaged in professionally and productively.
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