the path to increased productivity and decreased stress is more conflictReduce Passive-Aggressive Behavior on Your Team - Harvard Business Review
You can increase the likelihood of productive conflict by making team members feel more comfortable with openly disagreeing and less comfortable with stifling differences.
“Often, two or three people come to my office after each meeting to discuss something that I expected to be raised in the meeting.”
discuss the dynamic you want to establish. Be explicit about the need for conflict, and work with the team to set your conflict ground rules.
“I want everyone to add value before decisions are made, not after.”
“How might someone criticize this idea?”
“Are we ready to make this decision?”
“That is a really different way of looking at this issue — what can we gain from that perspective?” or “That’s not how I was thinking about it. Can you explain your reasoning?”
The other half of the equation is to make suppressing conflict feel increasingly uncomfortable.
“I’ve noticed that you’ve pushed away from the table. How are you reacting to this discussion?” or “I just saw three people roll their eyes. What’s going on?”
When sarcasm arises:
“I get the sense we’re using humor to avoid a serious discussion. What’s making this conversation difficult?”
When a team member comes to complain outside the meeting, redirect them: “I’m concerned that I didn’t hear this point of view in the meeting. What are you hoping to accomplish by raising it now?”
When someone tries to reopen a decision, ask, “What new information do we have that would lead us to address this again?” Be clear that it would have to go back to the team to be reversed. And be firm: “We already knew that when we made the decision.”
It may be hard to believe, but the path to increased productivity and decreased stress is more conflict, not less. As a team leader, it’s your job to foster that open, direct, and productive conflict.