businesswoman and businessman are fighting

Have you sabotaged your team’s results by playing peace-keeper?

While no one wants to spend their time in a hostile work environment, a certain amount of conflict is healthy.  It’s the friction that creates the fire.  If you give your people permission to disagree respectfully, they’ll come to better solutions, solve more problems, and spot more gaps than they would if playing nice was their highest priority.

Here are 13 ways to encourage healthy conflict at work.

  1. Ask for different viewpoints when something controversial or complex is raised.
  2. Call out someone who’s clearly uncomfortable with what’s being said.
  3. Make it a rule that nothing is agreed until at least one counter-argument exists.
  4. Encourage people to challenge priorities given to tasks or projects.
  5. Call a debate and encourage creative thought.
  6. Point out and put a stop to destructive conflict, evidenced by personal attack or win-lose mentalities rather than disagreement about a task or process.
  7. Let the team express their opinions before you express your own so that they can say what they really think, not just reiterate what you’ve said.
  8. Expect your team to be able to back up their opinion with fact and data.
  9. Add the ability to confidently and respectfully state an opinion that goes counter to the status quo as a measure in performance appraisals.
  10. Train people in problem solving and effective communication.
  11. Assist those with self-management issues (for example those who are quick to anger when opposed) to develop greater self-control.
  12. Play devil’s advocate – and let the team know that’s what you’re doing.
  13. Don’t hire yes-men or women in the first place.

All change involves some pain.   It’s not called “thrashing out issues” for nothing.   When your group can disagree with each other, but still walk out happy to work together, you’ve built a strong team dynamic that supports the success of your organisation.

So ditch the peace-keeper mentality and avoid stagnation by encouraging healthy conflict.