The reason conflict is so important is that a team cannot achieve commitment without it. People will NOT actively commit to a decision if they do not provide input, ask questions and UNDERSTAND the rationale behind it. Example: “If people do not weigh in, they can’t buy in.”
This point should not be misinterpreted as an argument for consensus. When a leadership team waits for consensus before taking action, they usually end up with decisions that are made too late and are mildly disagreeable to everyone. Great teams avoid the consensus trap by embracing a concept called: “disagree and commit.”
Team members will still leave a discussion committed to a common course of action, even if they cannot come to an agreement around an issue. However, this requires willingness on the part of everyone to be comfortable with the discomfort of conflict.
When everyone on the team has weighed in and provided every possible perspective needed for a fully informed decision, then a discussion can be clear and an unambiguous close and expect team members to rally around the final decision, even if they initially disagreed with it.
Very few people in the world are incapable of supporting a decision merely because they had a different idea But if all can rally around an idea that was not their own and still weigh in as long as conflict is respected and embraced by all to commit to a decision.
When people leave a meeting without active commitment around a decision, they don’t intentionally go back to their offices and design a plan to sabotage the idea. This only happens on TV. But in real life, what happens is far more dangerous – passive agreement. This happens when someone goes back to their office and does as little as possible to support the idea. They don’t promote it within their own team or dept. and sit back and watch problems develop, quietly looking forward to the day when things go badly and they can say “Well, I never really liked that idea in the first place.” The impact of this is often embarrassing and costly for the entire organization and is a sign of an unhealthy organization.
The only way to prevent passive sabotage is for leaders to demand conflict from their team members and let them know they are going to be held accountable for doing whatever the team ultimately decides.
It is still amazing that even when teams embrace conflict and honest debate, there can still be struggle with commitment. This is due to falling short of arriving at specific agreements at the end of a discussion. Although sitting in same room and all are speaking the same language, team members often leave with different ideas about what was just decided. There is only ONE way to prevent this.
At the end of every meeting and to arrive at decisions as a cohesive team, everyone sitting at the table must walk away with the same understanding about the agreed to decision and what the commitments are. Unfortunately, some of the people are usually EAGER to leave the room and are thinking about their own workload and agenda and are more than susceptible to bearing a little ambiguity.
This is why a recap of the commitments needs to be reviewed by all to clarify anything that isn’t crystal clear. If not, there will be confusion and misaligned messages which causes loss of credibility among other team members and lack of trust from the misaligned messages amongst each other. It is only when people know that their peers have completely bought into a decision that they will have the courage to embrace the fourth and most difficulty behavior of a cohesive team: accountability.
Once you accomplish the achieving commitment stage, your team will move on to embracing accountability and then Results start to happen! Be sure to start your paradigm shift today to build your cohesive team.