Set Team Norms to Encourage Productive Conflict

3 min

By setting the right norms, you'll get

your team comfortable going head-to-head.

To encourage productive conflict on your team:

1. Set clear standards

To stay ahead of unproductive conflict, make sure that you've set transparent processes and quality standards for every role on your team. That way, people will be able to voice feedback to their peers in objective terms that come from leadership.

2. Give the green light

Your team may be waiting for your go-ahead before they speak up. Tell people that you expect and rely on them to correct you when you’re wrong. And that if they disagree with each other, they should
never let it simmer under the surface.

3. Assign a “devil’s advocate”

If your team just can't get comfortable with open conflict, try designating a “devil’s advocate” in your next meeting: someone who must present an argument against a major decision before the team agrees to move forward with it.

Quiz 1 of 1

Your direct report Nikita told you that she was disappointed by her colleague's project presentation because "it just doesn't seem like he put much effort into it." Which change can you make to help Nikita raise issues like this productively in the future without framing it as a personal attack?

Tell Nikita that she should always come to you with her conflicts, and you can frame them productively for her.
Create an anonymous criticism system so Nikita's colleague would never know that it came from her.
Tell Nikita that she can act as a "devil's advocate" for this employee and question their day-to-day work.
Set clear standards for project presentations that she can point to if she feels that someone's work is subpar.

Embracing conflict isn't easy, but it can yield great outcomes for your team.

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