3 Reasons Why Seeking Harmony Kills Your Team

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Imagine the typical "harmonious" organization -- 99% of companies, if we could guesstimate. Most hate conflict. Most seek the go-happy "let's-sing-kumbaya-because -we-all-love-each-other" workforce -- so they avoid conflict. Blah. What's wrong with a culture that seeks harmony? It hurts your organization in 3 ways:
  1. You create a culture of politics.

    Where flying back-stabbings run rampant. Where Receptionist Sally is talking about how customers hate you. Where Joey in the next cubicle is talking about your mama. Yeah, you can discourage your people from voicing their opinions -- but human nature won't allow that. People will find outlets to voice their opinions -- and if they can't do it in a controlled environment (such as in an office meeting), they'll take the back-stabbing approach. When this goes on, the trust you need -- to build a kick-ass organization -- among your employees disappears.
  2. You uncover the true feelings of nobody.

    A culture without conflict causes people to stop in their tracks before they could voice their opinions. Imagine the scenario: Joanne has a grand plan to transform a loser widget into a profitable widget. Yet, her manager Billy Bob has a different plan and voices it to Joanne before Joanne can chime in with her ideas. Because the culture actively discourages conflict, she decides to keep her mouth shut to stick with cultural norms. Two years later, the company loses millions, becomes the laughing-stock on Wall Street, and goes belly-up. Welcome to the 1999 dot-com era.
  3. You encourage group-think.

    Reaching the teenage market? You'll probably find no good ideas among your team: A culture devoid of conflict creates a culture where "getting along" is expected, and conflict is condemned. When your culture discourages people to actively argue for the best ideas, you get: people who think the same, talk the same, voice the same, etc., etc., etc. Instead of finding the best idea, you're seeking an idea where "everybody agrees" -- when more likely: it's just the idea of the person dominating the discussion, which rallies the others around the idea because they're afraid of voicing a different perspective.
The moral: Conflict is good. Embrace it. Here's a template that will get you started:

Billy Bob, I hate that idea. Here's why.

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Posted on July 19

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