Steps to building a successful team: Part 2

The second step: addressing the fear of conflict.

We often find our selves wondering, “why can’t our team just work together better?“ or “I have an idea but there is no way I am going to share that during this team meeting. What if they laugh at me or think it is a bad idea?”. In order to build a succuessful team, the first step is the build trust, which is what we learned about in the first article. Trust is the key to developing a strong and supportive base for a well-funtioning team and even organization.

According to Patrick Lencioni, founder and president of The Table Group, who has worked with many organizations to provide training in the area of executive team development and organizational health, there are five dysfunctions of a team: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results. Since each of these behaviors are interrelated, it is important to work on them together as oppose to approaching each issue in a silo. Patrick Lencioni has developed guidelines that may assist in you in developing cohesiveness in your organizational team.  

The first step which Lencioni has defined as the basis of a successful team is trust-building. The second step in the process of team development is addressing the fear of conflict. Lencioni defines the fear of conflict as the teams in ability to disagree, to challenge or question one another in order to find the best answer. For conflict to be engaging and useful, it is important for conflict norms to be discussed and made clear to the entire team. Engaging in conflict can be intimidating, but this personal interaction ought not deter a team from having a passionate and productive debate about the issue at hand.

One technique for a team to engage in is conflict profiling. Conflict profiling is used to detemine everyone’s viewpoint on and comfort level with conflict. It is important to make this determination with each team member so the team can begin to understand each other perspectives in order to move forward together. Therefore, conflict, even though uncomfortable, occurs among the best of teams. Please stay tuned for the next article on lack of commitment.

To learn more about Government and Public Policy and the Leadership and Community Engagement programs offered through Michigan State University Extension, please contact Emily Proctor, Tribal Extension educator with questions or comments at (231) 439-8927 or  

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