Jack and Marsha - Constructive Conflict in Highly-Effective Teams

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Whether it's two people working together or a team of people, conflicts can arise. The highly-effective team often produces a better result when everyone is willing to engage in constructive conflict on the work itself.

Even if trust exists and team members are willing to engage in constructive conflict, some people will naturally try to avoid conflict at all costs. Others will try to avoid emotionally charged conversations. It’s useful for team members to fill out a DISC profile, voluntarily share their in-depth DISC reports with the team to surface these issues, and look for ways in which the team will encourage all members to participate productively. Let’s look at an example of how sharing their DISC profiles helped Jack and Marsha in a work situation.

In this case, Jack assisted Marsha on a series of projects for which she was responsible. Jack has boundless energy, enjoys taking action and getting things done. Marsha is easygoing, enjoys working steadily, and doesn’t like sudden change. Whenever Jack had an idea, he’d thrust the idea on Marsha, try to get immediate feedback, and if it was approved Jack would launch right into it. This approach drove Marsha nuts, but she tried to avoid conflict and sometimes said yes under pressure but reversed her decision later. Periodically, Marsha would get frustrated and blow up at Jack for reasons Jack couldn’t relate to.

Jack and Marsha each took a DISC profile and used a tool to build a comparison graph of their results. The graph showed both Jack and Marsha have high standards (high Conscientiousness), but the other three dimensions (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness) are opposites and the Dominance dimensions are polar opposites. Marsha realized that Jack’s high D, her low D, and her indirect way of handling a high D was causing a problem. After they talked about it, Jack was able to redirect much of his high Dominance behavior and stretch his Steadiness behavior. He struggled to stretch his Influence behavior, but that gap didn’t seem to bother Marsha as much. Marsha was also able to approach Jack more in his preferred style. Because Jack and Marsha gained insights into their own and each other’s behavior they were able to work out effective strategies for working together. Additionally, Jack took a listening profile and learned that his least used listening approach was the one that Marsha needed Jack to apply. Jack continues to redirect his D, stretch his S and stretch his listening style to accommodate Marsha which has lead to improved communication, less frustration and conflict, and a performance improvement from their team work.

Russ Pratt is a consultant, coach and trainer that promotes effective communication and building highly-effective teams. Visit http://www.momentumcoaching.com to learn more about DISC, workplace communications, and building highly-effective teams.


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