All of us are familiar with the frustration of a team that just can’t get along. Maybe there are just two people who bicker about every project, solution, or suggestion offered up by the other, but it makes the whole team feel like they are involved. Yes, it’s often a wish that teams would just get along and get their work done without any dramatic arguments or communication breakdowns – but according to this PDF by Steve Lemmex, PMP, not all team conflict is bad. In fact, some team conflict is important for a healthy, happy team. In this PDF, Lemmex explains how conflict takes many forms, and what advantages and disadvantages can be seen by working in teams. Furthermore, Lemmex lists six things that healthy teams are able to achieve and unhealthy teams fail at, as well as a quiz to help you understand where your own team sits on the scale of healthy or unhealthy. First, however, Lemmex explains away the typical wish of “I wish my team didn’t argue”: What does it mean if there is no conflict within the team, other than less stress for the Team Leader? No conflict within a team generally means one of two things: 1) the team members don’t care anymore and will just go along with whatever is put forward, or 2) all team members think exactly the same. On the surface, having a team that thinks exactly the same sounds nice, with no conflict and everyone happy. In fact, with no conflict, you may find that no one challenges old ways, no one thinks creatively, no one improves processes, or no one introduces new thinking. The kiss of death in most IT organizations is to stay the same for too long. So if you don’t want zero conflict (and certainly don’t want negative conflict), you must want positive conflict. The benefit of positive conflict includes:
- Increased involvement and team cohesion
- Mew ideas
- Challenging of the old process
- Clarification of objectives
Lemmex then goes on to explain some of the qualities of bad conflict (burnout, sabotage, polorization, etc.) and then the “six functional things that teams do well.” These include clear communication, clear goals and roles, a healthy conflict resolution process, and fair work distribution.