Fear of Conflict. Why does fear of conflict cause team dysfunction? Because if your workplace is not "safe" for dialog about work situations, especially sticky ones, you are probably missing out on some of the best solutions. Healthy discussion about the pros and cons of a problem bring out valuable perspectives that can help employees narrow in on the best approaches.
Some of the symptoms of environments where fear of conflict prevail include: 1) employees avoid discussion of topics that are crucial to team success, 2) politics and personal attacks thrive, 3) there is a lack of open forums where all team members express their thoughts/perspectives.
Overcome fear of conflict by creating an environment where new ideas and differing perspectives are encouraged. Start by designating a few employees Patrick Lencioni calls, "miners of conflict". These are stewards that encourage employees to share their thoughts and verbally encourage them as the discussion becomes uncomfortable. The stewards also follow up with contributing team members after the dialog to remind them that the conflict they just engaged in is healthy for the team in the long run.
Lack of Commitment. Commitment is a team dysfunction for obvious reasons - if employees are not committed to your business goals and objectives, progress is stifled.
Environments that exhibit symptoms of lack of commitment include: 1) employees aren't clear about team direction and priorities, 2) employees revisit discussions and decisions again and again, 3) team members second-guess each other.
Overcome a lack of commitment by honing in on clarity and buy-in. Clarity exists when all parties understand the objectives of the project and their role in achieving the objective. Buy-in exists when everyone is in agreement of the next step (this does NOT always mean agreement with the decision).
One easy way to achieve both clarity and buy-in? At the end of staff meetings, the team should review key decisions that were reached and agree who is doing what by when...and then the team needs to hold each member accountable.
Sometimes merely "noticing" there are dysfunctions is the first step in eliminating them. Hopefully by reviewing some of the symptoms of each, you can recognize which ones need work on in your environment! Next time, we'll cover the last two team dysfunctions: avoidance of accountability and inattention to results.