How Healthy Conflict Leads to Team Commitment

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  • 0:03 What Is Healthy Conflict?
  • 0:41 How Does Conflict Lead…
  • 1:17 Why Is Healthy…
  • 2:18 A Case Study in…
  • 5:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Leftwich
Working on a team can be a tricky process. Different personality types and the pressure of deadlines can make it difficult for teams to work together effectively and as a cohesive unit. In this lesson we will discuss one of the most important elements of a successful team -- healthy conflict.

What Is Healthy Conflict?

When working on a team, it is easy to assume that avoiding conflict is the best way to be a team player. But healthy conflict does not mean that a team has trouble getting along. Healthy conflict is the process of team members being able to exchange and debate ideas in a respectful, productive way. Through healthy conflict, team members are comfortable disagreeing and discussing the merits of ideas with one another before they come to a conclusion, which means they'll be able to choose the best course of action as opposed to compromising on a sub-optimal solution.

How Does Conflict Lead to Trust?

The most important facet of a team is their trust in one another. Teams cannot successfully have healthy conflict unless they have established trust. Creating and maintaining a safe space where team members feel they can speak up, brainstorm, and disagree shows that the team is fully functional and committed to the success of their projects. Being able to debate ideas without personal agendas helps show that team members trust each other and the team's overall ability to come to the right conclusion. You must have trust before you can have healthy conflict.

Why Is Healthy Conflict Important?

Have you ever worked on a project you weren't excited about? Maybe you didn't get to decide what you were working on, or maybe the work just didn't interest you. When this happens, you likely didn't work as hard as you could have, because feeling invested in the work is a big part of how much effort you put into it and how much you want the project to succeed.

This is why commitment, or full investment in the team, is so important. Being able to believe in the action the team is taking is crucial for each member to feel engaged and invested. This commitment is encouraged through healthy conflict. People want to be heard, and if they feel that their ideas are being considered and respected, they are more likely to buy into the commitment to the team and the work ahead of them. Encouraging healthy conflict means that each team member is more likely to believe in where the team is headed, and in turn, more likely to be invested and productive.

A Case Study in Healthy Conflict

Let's first set the stage. Three team members who work for Ream Co., an office supply company, are discussing how to deal with a customer who is considering taking their business to another supplier. Now let's meet the team members:

  • Rosey: the sales rep. She feels emotionally invested in the outcome because she worked so hard to establish a relationship with the customer.
  • Rick: the sales manager. He is always the loudest voice in the room and is concerned mainly with the business impact of this decision.
  • Lesley: works in supply. She has trouble speaking up among the team, because she feels her role is less valuable.

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