Discarding Discord: How to Facilitate Team Cooperation

The failed health care vote has been a main topic of conversation in the media over the past few weeks. Regardless of what your political opinion was of the proposed legislation, most people agree that the lack of planning, organization, and cooperation leading up to the vote was embarrassing.

The chaos leading up to the vote once again goes to show that teamwork and collaboration are two of the most key elements of working toward any goal. Conflicting ideologies are a part of most group decisions, and if no one in the group understands how to work past them, nothing productive will occur. So, here are a few tips on how to work through team discord.

Initiate Conversations

It seems obvious that people should talk amongst themselves to understand others’ viewpoints. Unfortunately, people don’t always feel like giving their full effort to talk to people with differing opinions — which explains why it can be so difficult for politicians to cross partisan lines. Sometimes, it falls on you as the leader to facilitate dialogue by convening the team to hash through the issues. When people actually speak face to face, there is more of a chance for compromise — this can be easily forgotten when the vast majority of communication occurs through technology without immediate feedback.

Public Pros/Cons List and Listen to Everyone’s Views

Conflict can be difficult to work through even if you are able to facilitate conversation. It helps to get everything out on the table and have the group create a pros/cons list for everyone to analyze. Being able to visualize and see talking points can be an effective way to help change people’s opinions. To really drive home your point, have people from each side of the argument write pros for the other side, and cons for their own side — this will encourage others to go through the process of considering other people’s opinions as legitimate.

In some cases, you may not be able to change someone’s viewpoint; however, allowing all team members to weigh in enables them to feel heard.  And, when people have had a chance to share their opinions and feel heard, they are more likely to buy into whatever decision is made.

Emphasize Cooperation as Non-Negotiable

Group discord can potentially be avoided entirely if you are able to create an office environment that places great emphasis on working together harmoniously. As a manager, it’s on you to instill the importance of cooperation and teamwork over all else. The process of building this type of atmosphere starts by hiring people who have high levels of emotional intelligence who can effectively collaborate with others to work through differing opinions and conflict.

Great ideas are useless without a team that can agree upon how to best operationalize them. Make sure that you have plans in place for when things get rocky in the office so you can stay on track and not have to worry about team discord.

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