There are two dynamics that can destroy a team. One we are all familiar with is known as too much disagreement. If disagreement is not managed appropriately it will begin to frustrate the team. The negativity will spread like a virus until the team becomes so dysfunctional, nothing works. There is no unity, or collaboration, people are forced to choose a side, and eventually we lose focus of the ultimate goal. The disagreement becomes a battle of two or more people stubbornly entrenched in their own viewpoints. It is certainly acceptable, and should even be encouraged, for team members to disagree. But once a person disagrees, the other should be asking that person to elaborate, “why do you feel that is what we should do?” Then, after listening intently to the response, provide the reasoning behind their own viewpoint. Typically this type of exchange will result in some sort of compromise or back and forth discussion until an agreement is reached, or one idea begins to stand out over the other.
The reason we get entrenched in our own viewpoint is we take a stance without all the facts, or we have a preconceived notion of what should be done, without considering that there may be more than one solution to a problem. We have pre-determined that our way is the correct way, and it very well may be, but no one has ever raised a voice or talked condescendingly to another person and been able to convince them to change their mind. The only way to persuade others to a viewpoint is through mutual respect and a give-and-take discussion that leads to everyone seeing what you see. It is creating a picture for others that makes it easy for them to agree, or at least to find a compromise, or vice-versa.
Occasionally, after this type of exchange, there are those who remain entrenched and won’t budge. When that happens and all ideas have been heard and discussed, and a compromise still can’t be reached, the leader must step up and make the call. That is what leaders do – they make the final call. Once the call has been made, every team member is expected to support the decision and have a positive attitude, knowing that they made their case but it was overruled this time. The only exception to supporting the decision would be if it is an ethical issue and you believe crosses a personal line of integrity. Other than that, everyone needs to be on board and working toward the same goal with unity.
The second dynamic that can destroy a team is not discussed as often and may not be as familiar. Too much agreement is just as deadly to a team as too much disagreement. Too much agreement can lead to apathy and “going along to get along.” This is when a “group of people collectively decide on a course of action that is counter to the preferences of many (or all) of the individuals in the group. It involves a common breakdown of group communication in which each member mistakenly believes that their own preferences are counter to the group’s and, therefore, does not raise objections.” (Webster) It is perhaps not as noticeable because there is no tension, no one is “rocking the boat”, everyone is nice and agreeable. This can often lead to one person making all of the decisions, right or wrong, good or bad, and everyone goes along, however, they do not feel good about the decision. People go along for many reasons. Some individuals are more introverted and need more time to process an idea before speaking up. Sending an agenda of topics and asking everyone to come prepared to discuss can alleviate this challenge. Sometimes we don’t speak up because we lack confidence in our idea or if it turns out to be wrong, we don’t want to be held accountable. If there is a person who dominates the conversation, we may decline to speak up for fear of retribution. If the person talking is a higher ranking person in the organization, we may not want to speak out against their viewpoint. I could probably continue with reasons someone might not want to speak up, but the bigger point is what Sam Walton, Walmart Stores, use to say, “If I have 2 people who always agree on everything, I have one too many.” We need lots of ideas and viewpoints in our organizations.
Without any disagreement, there is no asking for explanation or seeking a different viewpoint/option that could lead to a more effective decision or a better way of doing something. To manage too much agreement, the leader must make sure that every individual has an opportunity, and knows it is expected, to speak up and be heard. The leader must ask questions to ensure a full understanding and guide the conversation so the team can reach optimal solutions.
Leaders must manage too much agreement and too much disagreement. Call us for a more in-depth look at how to manage both of these effectively. www.leadadvantageinc.com