Conflict or communication – which works best for you?
Three types of Team Conflict:
When the stakes are high, which one of these scenarios have you seen play out?
(A) The conflict is swept under the carpet.
Denial that conflict existed, or had any impact on the team or performance
(B) When aggression threatens to take over…
Sometimes assertiveness is the only way to get things done
(C) Intermittent disagreement which wears the team down.
Chinese whispers which threaten the integrity of the team
Conflict is healthy
functioning team. Without it, and the communication skills that surround it your team is destined to be dysfunctional.
Learning how to handle the conflict that arises in your team and learning how to channel it effectively is key. Converting conflict into effective communication so that things can move forward and change is the name of the game. However, this is easier said than done.
The Tuckman model of team development can really help you with a new way of looking at the steps in the process.
To recap, the five steps of team development are:
The step most team leaders usually fear is the storming stage. This is when the arguments and disagreements happen about how things should be done and who should be doing them. As the team leader, you worry about everything falling out of control.
If you think about watching “The Apprentice” on TV, it’s the bit when the two teams are past the smiles (forming) and trying to work out how to work together.
What can you as the team leader do with the fear? As often is the case, communication is the answer. Here are three things you can do:
(A) Take a deep breath and hold the space for the storming conversations to be held
It is tough, allowing a difficult conversation with diverse agendas and viewpoints to be heard in full. However, if you can keep your nerve, this is usually just before the conversation and team turns the corner.
(B) Get better with your own capacity to hold demanding conversations
It’s a myth to think that some people are natural or just plain better at doing these things. We can all learn how to do new things with our communication. Keep experimenting with small differences with what you say and do.
(C) Keep remembering, this is the team formation process, it’s not personal and it is possible!
A model such as Tuckman can quickly help you make sense of what is going on. With this model in your mind, you can ensure the stages happen overtly and cleanly. Knowledge is power!
5 steps towards healthy performance
It is hard to find a team leader or manager who looks forward to the storming stage of team development. However, Tuckman’s model and good communication skills can help you work with your team to both develop the team and keep performance high. Both of these are valuable to the long term future of your organisation.
For more ideas, a recent article in Forbes on how to resolve workplace conflicts might help.