Is your team truly unified, or just afraid to speak up for fear of hurting someone’s feeling or starting an argument? If you’re not careful or don’t know how to cultivate a culture of healthy conflict a team with a fear of conflict will appear to be unified…but in reality they are two very different teams.
I’m a huge proponent of Candor and the benefits it provides to an organization. My first real introduction to this topic was from the book Winning by Jack Welch. In that book he calls candor “the biggest dirty little secret in business” and after relentlessly working to integrate candor into the culture of my last business I firmly believe this to be true!
Some people enjoy conflict and some people are terrified of it. The fact is, healthy conflict speeds up decision making and more importantly buy-in once the decision is made. If you’re familiar with the DISC personality profiling system you probably know that over 40% of people are high on the “S” scale. This group of people DO NOT like conflict. The good news is that if “healthy” conflict is encouraged, communicated and demonstrated within the organization even high S’s can learn to engage in healthy conflict.
Okay, so what is healthy conflict? Pat Lencioni, in his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, calls it ideological conflict and says “its limited to concepts and ideas, and avoids personality-focused, mean-spirited attacks”. Something worth noting here is that for this kind of conflict to work effectively the team members involved must trust each other…but that’s a whole other topic.
Here’s an acrostic for what I think are the key characteristics of a UNIFIED team.
A unified team…
U – Understands each other
N – Never gossips about one another
I – Interacts candidly
F – Focuses collectively on what matters most
I – Intentions and roles are crystal clear
E – Evaluate progress and results constantly
D – Determined to WIN together
If your team tends to have unproductive, boring meetings that don’t seem to accomplish much, maybe, just maybe they aren’t quite as unified as they appear to be.