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Conflict in Teamsby eyepopslikeamosquito (Bishop)
|on Jun 12, 2017 at 13:29 UTC||Need Help??|
Following on from Working Solo and in a Team, this meditation discusses how to handle conflict in teams, so that everyone is pulling in the same direction.
Vulnerability and Trust
Vulnerability and trust are crucial to good teamwork. Everyone in the team needs to be vulnerable. Everyone. To freely admit: "I don't know the answer", "I need help", "I stuffed up, sorry". Sadly, just one team member with a toxic attitude, like perldigious's dysfunctional manager above, destroys teamwork.
Reinforcing points made in Psychological Safety, Patrick Lencioni, in a talk on Team Dysfunctions, gives some real-world examples of teams becoming dysfunctional when just one team member could not be vulnerable. And it's worst of all when that one non-vulnerable team member happens to be the team leader.
How to get everyone in the team to be vulnerable and acknowledge their weaknesses? According to Patrick, there is only one way: The leader must go first!
Why is vulnerability and trust so important?
Conflict is normal. Conflict is expected. Part of the human condition. Handling conflict effectively is the primary reason why trust is so important in teams. Without trust, conflict tends to become personal or political; with trust, conflict is the pursuit of truth, finding the best solution.
It's vital for the team to not hold back, to disagree passionately when required. To be honest to each other. And respectful. Is arguing a "waste of time"? No! No argument means no commitment! Of course, the arguments must be focused on finding the best solution, never personal or political.
Two Types of Trust
Building trust across cultures notes the two types of trust:
Disagree and Commit
Though Intel and Amazon share the same "Disagree and Commit" slogan, they appear to have a different emphasis. Intel emphasize teamwork and cohesion (when people have a chance to express their point of view and have its pros and cons heard and appreciated, they are more likely to accept and support a differing approach) while Amazon focus on faster decision making ("I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?") and innovation (for more innovation, you need disagreement, not consensus).
Peer-to-peer accountability is the best kind of accountability. When people don't commit, they don't hold each other accountable. Leaders must be willing to hold people accountable, not just on quantitative issues (KPIs), but behavioral ones too.
References Added Later
July 2021: Added "Two Types of Trust" section.