Conflicts. Good or Bad?

Have you even been involved in or witness a conflicts within any group you worked with? Or have you heard stories about it from your friends, familiars and coworkers? I am sure you had. Conflicts are very common in teams, specially when the diversity is implemented, having people with different culture backgrounds and thoughts. Conflicts can be a number of different things. Some typical definitions include:

  • Difference of opinion with another;
  • Complaints about performance;
  • Criticism of behaviors and attitude;
  • Speaking out for beliefs;
  • Risking the loss of acceptance;
  • And others

For many teams, conflicts are uncomfortable and threatening. It is so unpleasant that many believe that all conflicts are bad and must be avoided and stifled. This, however, is a myth. Conflicts can be seen positively in its constructive form as a perfect opportunity for the growth of the team, as it is essential to high performance.

People are a lot likely to believe that the team cohesion is determined by personal chemistry, and that all members of high performance teams like each other. Well, guess what? This is also a myth.  This erroneous belief is often used to justify individual-oriented corrective actions that include reassignment, discipline, and termination, but when the causes of poor team cohesion aren’t personal, these actions are ineffective. Moreover, in misguided efforts to form high performance teams, we sometimes staff teams according to personal chemistry rather than knowledge, skill, or capability.

Another myth that is really popular among team members is the believe that conflicts undermines performance. Many believe that conflict is always bad and destructive, that disagreements always threaten team goals, and that those who disagree aren’t team players. However, what many people don’t know is how to disagree agreeably, or how to engage in substantive debate while avoiding personal attacks. For all these people, disagreement leads to toxic conflict. If disagreement is disallowed, how can teams ever perfect group decisions? All positions would remain unquestioned until their advocates moved on. Conflict usually entails disagreement, but conflict can be either destructive or constructive. Constructive conflict is essential to high performance.

The last myth I am going to talk about regarding to conflicts in teams, is the belief that every team trouble is always caused by the few “bad-apple”. This belief is also followed by the thoughts that by eliminating those “bad-apples” or by modifying their behavior, all the problems will come to an end.  How wrong can they be? The true is that by eliminating the bad-apples, the symptoms are only being driven underground and no problems will be solved. To achieve high performance we must actually address problems, and that requires people who are willing to speak up in order for the team to get to a solution together.

Now, one last question. How do you stand on this myths? Do you think they are actually true?
Share your ideas with me by leaving comments so we can have a conversation about it.
Thanks for reading!

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