Differing opinions, divergent viewpoints, and conflicting ideas are healthy and central to progress. They broaden our perspectives, stretch our minds, and help us to arrive at the best possible strategy and practices. Research suggests that constructive disagreement is enormously important to the success of a team. It increases participation in decision making, encourages collaboration, reduces anxiety, and results in better choices and more creative thinking. If you want the best to come out of your teams, it pays to establish a conflict culture.
When it comes to harnessing the strengths of teams while avoiding the weaknesses, team leaders have a tough job. Not only must they capture the full diversity of knowledge contributed by team members, they must also provide the right motivators such that individuals feel enabled and engaged with their job. Get the balance wrong, even slightly, and the result can be ruinous.
In dynamic and competitive markets, it's almost universally understood that the old ways of working don't work any more. Every company has to think outside the box if it is to achieve higher levels of performance. Creativity is the tool that allows teams to work faster, and smarter, and quickly find their way to workable solutions to unique problems.
Anyone who has worked in business has, at some point or another, smelt the stench of stale teams. Teams that started out as a success story, wowing clients and higher ups with their creativity, commitment and enthusiasm, can quickly grow complacent. The fact is, it's a hard slog to sustain a high-performing team. Serious graft is required to keep team members rowing in the same direction week after week, year after year.
Though we often think about dialogue as a simple conversation between two or more people, it is better defined as the medium through which people with different viewpoints may voice and share possibilities. It requires a number of skills beyond talking: setting aside ego, listening without judgment, creativity, and problem-solving. The idea is that people with alternative perspectives work together so that everyone may attain a deeper collective understanding of the issues. It's a pretty tough ask.
Look around the workplace, and it's clear that conversation isn't what it used to be. Across the office, people are frantically reading, typing, and hitting "send" on emails, texts and social media. We're communicating all the time, perhaps more than ever before. Ironically, everyone's too busy to have an actual conversation.
All work and no play can make Jack a very dull boy — and it can also lead to stress, absenteeism, and burnout. Even the most confident manager can find it difficult to motivate a diverse team of individuals who are so under pressure, they've forgotten how to enjoy their job.
Most managers and HR professionals are convinced that making work fun boosts an employee's ability to perform at optimum levels and deliver a better-quality service, even under the toughest of working conditions. But how do you go about lightening up your work setting?
In today's economic landscape, it's more important than ever for businesses to accomplish more with less; a process known as boosting productivity. Productive employees output more work per specific unit of time than less productive employees. It is this increased efficiency that makes the business money.
But keeping employees productive is hard work. Why? Because productivity is primarily an inside job. You can't force it on someone. It comes from within a person and, essentially, is a measure of their motivation to close down tasks within a clearly defined timeframe.
One of the biggest sources of workplace conflict shows up in differences on the fourth dimension of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - Judging versus Perceiving. A person whose style is "J" will schedule things in advance, organize their work with attention to deadlines and keep their eyes firmly on the goal. A "P" on the other hand, is pretty loose and free wheeling. They like to work on multiple projects simultaneously and to keep their options open until the very last minute, rather than forming a plan ahead of time.
There's no shortage of guidance about how to respond to negative feedback. Whether the criticism comes as a shock or is entirely expected, the same advice is consistently touted: Listen carefully, don't get defensive, and act on the feedback to improve your performance.