Collaborative Conflict

Most people don’t really believe this is possible… but it is. In fact it’s a necessary, even critical part of effective team dynamics. In Adam Grant’s book “Originals” he speaks with Ray Dalio at Bridgewater, which is one of the worlds largest investment houses. Dalio invites constructive conflict and in fact he requires it at every level in his organization.

Ask yourself the question, do I just want solutions from my people or do I want engaging discussion from every team member?   A well-known Vancouver Businessman, Jimmy Pattison, once said “you hire them for what they can get done from the neck down so you may as well use what they’ve got from the neck up.”

This calls into question the way you lead and your ability to be curious and collaborative, always inviting the best ideas, which sometimes creates conflict. If people come to you for the answer to every question because they know you just want your own way, you teach them to be helpless. If you let them do whatever they want, you become helpless.

Generating truthful, frank and productive discussion can start with a few simple questions about HOW you’ll do this. Here’s some suggestions to set the stage.

Tell your team or any member about HOW you like to solve problems. Tell them about your style and what works best for you. Tell them that if you offend them in some way with your style to find a way to bring it up… you may have to give them suggestions.

Next, ask them how they best like to solve problems and their preferred style, and if they offend you… mention that you’ll find a way to bring it up with them. Do this with each team member and consider doing it as a group. It doesn’t take long but this is the kind of discussion that will get your best ideas from those quiet thoughtful people at the back of the room… they often have GREAT ideas.

This simple process, talking about HOW you address collaborative conflict, will be a powerful step in the right direction.

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