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.
In my first blogpost, I discussed the concept of the net-positive outcome as the primary driver for starting or joining an organization. People start businesses because they perceive the potential for success as receiving a net-positive combination of intrinsic and material values from the experience. As a business leader, the best way to accomplish success is to provide the working environment in which employees’ behaviors will add more value than the sum of the costs. In other words, the processes which guide employee behaviors as they utilize the resources the business requires to deliver its goods and/or services must be as close to perfect as reasonably possible. Having an information structure within which Direction is critical. But how does a business accomplish optimal performance when the business situation constantly changes? The key is to train employees to constantly be vigilant for incidents which indicate waste has been created. In other words, create an organization which recognizes that its plan for success, its Information Structure, is only as good as the next mistake and learn from it. I propose that developing a Learning Organization is as easy as remembering what we all learned in 8th Grade Science class – the Scientific Method.
If we apply the Scientific Method to our business, the first step we take is to ask whether a waste-creating incident has occurred. If so, we can accomplish the research, hypothesis development, testing and analysis through Incident Response and Risk Assessment controls to determine whether we have found the root cause and if the solution, or change, that we want to implement will reduce the probability of creating waste in the future. By utilizing Change Management controls we can ensure the results are reported via our Information Structure so every employee affected by it has the opportunity to modify their behaviors from that point forward. In other words, we can apply the Scientific Method in any business environment through Administrative Controls to create a Learning Organization capable of Continuous Improvement.
The challenge for business leaders is walking two paths at the same time. In others words, it does not seem possible to stop and make improvements to processes while operating at the same time. The demands placed on the business do not allow the luxury of stopping, so the tendency is to put out the fires and move on. The key is to recognize that perfection is not possible, but working towards it is. The framework that the Scientific Method provides around which we can apply appropriate Administrative Controls allows us train employees to make improvements at the process level.
At the organizational level, business leaders can also apply the Scientific Method’s framework to ensure improvements at the tactical level can be translated to the strategic level. In other words, a Practical Leadership Model can be created within the organization to provide the purpose, direction and appropriate behavioral drivers required to focus the efforts of all employees on accomplishment of the mission – all because we paid attention in 8th Grade Science. So, we have returned to where we started in the first article, “Leading People- Start with a Clear Mission,” in which we discussed the definition of Leadership. The Practical Leadership Model provides the environment and structure within which the definition of Leadership can be realized.
The most significant contributing factor to organizational success is Leadership.