Mastering Productive Team Conflict

Mastering productive team conflict

All great, lasting relationships will encounter conflict. While conflict often carries a negative connotation, especially in the workplace, it can lead to growth when handled productively. Far from being a sign of team dysfunction, healthy conflict within teams can be a catalyst for innovation leading to stronger relationships.

To foster productive conflict within a team, trust must be established. When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer. By productive conflict, we mean debate that’s focused on concepts and ideas but avoids mean-spirited, personal attacks.

1. Encouraging Constructive Conflict

When we acknowledge that conflict can be a force for good, we open ourselves up to new ideas and perspectives. By speaking up for our beliefs, considering the thoughts of others, and confronting issues, we can push ourselves to reach new heights of success. Developing the habits mentioned here will further help contribute to productive debates within teams.

What Productive Conflict Looks Like on a Team:

  • Voicing opinions
  • Seeking out teammates opinions
  • Confronting important issues
  • Exploring everyones ideas

However, having productive conflict on a team can be challenging due to fears and concerns that may hold us back. It’s crucial to be aware of these fears so we can start to overcome them. For example, some team members may be afraid that conflict could damage their relationships with their colleagues, so they may avoid challenging the status quo altogether. Recognizing and addressing these common fears is essential for getting to the best ideas possible.

Fears That Can Hold a Team Back:

  • Damaging relationships
  • Appearing overly critical
  • Anticipating negative feedback
  • Disrupting the status quo

2. Taking Action to Build Productive Conflict

Productive conflict doesn’t just happen overnight. It requires active listening, respect for differing viewpoints, and a shared commitment to common goals. Team leaders play a pivotal role in cultivating an environment where team members feel empowered to express their opinions. By promoting open communication leaders can help their teams harness the power of conflict for better decision-making. Certain habits significantly aid in establishing productive conflict practices. For example, glossing over differences can lead to future problems. When all opinions aren’t expressed, teams may lack full commitment and buy-in to decisions.

Top Ways to Develop Productive Conflict:

  • Solicit the views of more reserved teammates
  • Keep the focus on ideas
  • Resist the urge to sweep things under the rug
  • Collect emotions before responding

By engaging in productive conflict and tapping into a variety of perspectives and opinions, team members can confidently commit to a decision knowing that they have benefited from everyone’s ideas. Remember, productive conflict isn’t about personal attacks or animosity. It’s about robustly discussing concepts and ideas, pushing boundaries, and ultimately creating stronger teams. When productive conflict is treated as a crucial aspect of team culture, it drives the group towards achieving greater success and fulfillment in their endeavors. So, let’s encourage healthy debates and harness their power!

Source: Five Behaviors

“Leaders do not avoid, repress, or deny conflict, but rather see it as an opportunity”  
– Warren Bennis

Did you know this about disc?

DiSC is an assessment that aids with effective communication

Everything DiSC Productive Conflict

Everything DiSC® Productive Conflict increases learners’ self-awareness around conflict behaviors, helping them effectively respond to uncomfortable and unavoidable challenges of workplace conflict. 

Rather than focusing on a step-by-step process for conflict resolution, this learning experience combines the personalized insights of DiSC® with the proven science of cognitive behavioral theory to help participants recognize and transform their destructive habits into more productive responses.

Productive Conflict Video

How to Give Feedback to Employees: 7 Tips for Success

Feedback for employees: 7 tips for success

In the workplace, the ability to provide constructive feedback is one of the most important tools at a manager’s disposal, giving them the power to shape not only an individual’s performance but also the performance of their department or organization as a whole. However, like many aspects of managing people, providing input is an art that takes practice. To get started, here are some essential tips for how to give feedback to employees.

1. Recognize the impact of feedback

Understanding the value of feedback is the first step in delivering it effectively. It’s easy for busy managers to neglect feedback when they don’t understand the impact their words can have on their team members. We’ve all had feedback – good and bad. Take a moment to reflect on the impact feedback has had on your development. The right feedback at the right time can be so powerful on someone that it may inspire them to change their career, or their whole life. It’s hard to push feedback to the back burner when you’re aware of its potential for profound change.

2. Find their feedback style

Just as people have their preferred communication styles, they have different preferences when it comes to receiving feedback. While some may be energized by public praise, others may be embarrassed by it. How can you tell which style your employees prefer? It’s simple – ask them. And the earlier you do it in the relationship, the better. As part of a new employee’s onboarding process, make sure to ask, “How do you like to be recognized?” This will help your team members – and you – feel more comfortable during the feedback process.

3. Choose the right time and place

The environment in which feedback is delivered can make or break its reception. Choose an appropriate setting. “Praise in public, correct in private” is a safe mantra to follow.

Also, keep in mind the timing of feedback is crucial. Don’t put it off. Address situations promptly while the details are still fresh in everyone’s mind. Whether it’s positive reinforcement or constructive criticism, try to deliver it as soon as possible after the behavior or action. “Catch them in the act,” as the saying goes, to reinforce the performance (or eradicate it). For example, if you spot a team member doing an outstanding job with a customer, make sure to praise them right away for it, and they’ll be much more likely to repeat the action.

Finally, setting the stage is important as well. Make sure your employee is prepared for receiving feedback by asking them, “Do you have some time for me to share some feedback with you on [your last project]?” Especially if you have some constructive feedback, you don’t want to catch them by surprise.

4. Be concrete and specific

While it’s always nice to give an encouraging “Good job today,” aim to be specific about what exactly your associate did and the impact it had on the project or company. Vague or ambiguous feedback can not only lead to confusion but also to hurt feelings in the case of constructive feedback. Such clarity will help your employee understand the feedback better as well as provide a road map for improvement.

5. Reconsider the compliment sandwich

The “compliment sandwich,” also known as the “feedback sandwich,” is a classic method of delivering constructive feedback by “sandwiching” areas for improvement between two positive remarks. While this approach can take the sting out of negative comments, for that very reason, it can underemphasize areas that need improvement.

When using the “positive-negative-positive” approach, it’s best to follow up this feedback sandwich with a dessert, so to speak, of checking for understanding and making a plan. Checking for understanding can be as simple as asking, “Does this make sense to you?” Open up the door for a two-way conversation at this point. Next, rather than putting your employee on the spot and asking for a plan then and there, ask them when they can give you a plan to correct the situation – and get a specific date.

6. Remember: It’s a dialogue, not a monologue

When giving feedback, stay mindful and show your employee respect by making sure the environment is distraction-free, for example, by putting your phone on silent. Invite your employee to share their thoughts and listen intently. Who knows, you may learn something important from your employee or identify an opportunity for improvement that will strengthen their performance. Above all, they’ll feel more engaged and empowered to take an active role in their work.

7. Follow up

A continuous cycle of feedback can have a powerful impact on behavior. Following up on your last feedback session will show that you care about how your employee is doing. It also gives you the opportunity to validate successful behaviors and to discourage less successful ones. The result is better communication with your team and faster growth and development.

Source: Chris Brennan, Insperity

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That is how we improve.”
– Bill Gates

Did you know this about disc?

DiSC is an assessment that aids with effective communication

Group map

The main feature is the Group map. Similar to the group map and poster available through the Group Culture and Group Facilitator reports, the map shows everyone’s dot location and their icon from Catalyst. This tab also shows the group members and their priorities and this list can be filtered by primary DiSC style. The “more info” link will take you to the “Your colleagues” comparison page with that person.

Groups Video



Managers are Spending 4hrs a Week Dealing with Conflict

managers spend 4hrs a week dealing with conflict 

A new report by Meyers-Briggs, Conflict at Work, reveals that managers spend an average of four hours each week dealing with employee conflict. The research investigates how people in the workplace see conflict today and what we can do to manage it better.

Conflict is what happens when there is a difference of opinion. Change and disruption bring difference, which helps to explain why managing conflict is so valuable in the workplace right now. Our working environment is constantly changing.

John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company and who carried out the study says “This research sheds light on how people in the workplace see conflict and shows how individuals can use knowledge of their own conflict-handling style and personality type to navigate conflict more effectively.”

The Conflict at Work research includes insights such as:

  • Poor communication is the number one cause of conflict.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 people think their managers handle conflict poorly or very poorly.
  • The more time that an individual spent dealing with conflict at work, the lower their job satisfaction and the less included they felt.

Compared to the company’s 2008 study, workplace conflict is becoming more common. Over a third (36%) of people now report dealing with conflict often, very often, or all the time, compared to 29% previously.

The top cause of conflict was poor communication, though conflict looked different for in-office, hybrid, and remote workers. In-office workers were more likely to say that poor communication caused conflict at work compared to hybrid or fully remote workers; but those working hybrid schedules were more likely to say a lack of transparency caused the most conflict.

In an open-ended question, survey respondents were asked, “Whose responsibility is it to ensure that conflict in the workplace is managed effectively?” 241 individuals responded, and their answers were categorized into themes:


Line Supervisor/Manager 45%
Everyone 42%
Me/People Directly Involved 20%
Middle/Senior Management 20%
HR 8%
Everyone 3%


With only 8% looking to HR to help resolve conflict, it’s important to train all employees on how to properly manage conflict. Conflict is inevitable, and if handled properly, can lead to improved relationships, new processes, and new ideas.

The greatest positive benefits of conflict were seen as building relationships, collaboration, and co-operation.

  • Women were more likely than men to mention outcomes around building relationships, collaboration, and co-operation.
  • Respondents who mentioned outcomes around building relationships, collaboration, and co-operation tended to spend a greater proportion of their time working remotely compared with those who did not.
  • They also gave a higher rating to the importance of conflict handling as a leadership or management skill.
  • Those who mentioned outcomes around achieving a better solution tended to rate their ability to manage conflict more positively.
  • Those who mentioned outcomes around change, innovation, or new ideas were more likely to mention changes in policies, products etc., and a lack of transparency as causes of conflict.


Source: Meyers Briggs, 2022

“It you have learned to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secret of getting along-whether it be business, family relations, or life itself”. 
– Bernard Meltzer

Constructive Feedback through This Medium Isn’t Caring and Can Be Misconstrued…

I started touring colleges this past week with my oldest son, a high schooler who’s pretty curious about the whole college experience.

I was excited about the first college we toured; I felt it suited him perfectly. We’d watched a few videos on YouTube about the school and its programs, as well as attended a virtual tour. When we got there, the first impression of the institution was solid but, within minutes, I hate to say it, the cracks in the veneer began to show.

I won’t go into details (discretion is the better form of valor), but I will say that I went from a huge fan of the college to a critical evaluator of the institute and its programs.

I started to write an email to admissions to let them know a few of my gripes, quips, and disappointments. Once the note was complete, and before I hit “send,” I re-read what I wrote and decided to hit delete. My note felt snarky and the tone just didn’t seem right. The feedback I wanted to share didn’t seem helpful and it just wasn’t meant for an email.

I opted for a phone call instead. Rather than a one-sided note flung through cyberspace, I felt that a conversation would be a better medium – it’d convey my respect, interest in helping improve the admissions process, and share helpful insight into my observations. (The call’s scheduled for this week.)

This brings me to the point of this email. I know many of us like to share feedback with others via email. I get it entirely – it feels safer to articulate our words in text and hit send than to have a face-to-face where conflict or disagreement might ensue. But have you ever thought that constructive feedback through this medium isn’t caring and can be misconstrued?

Here’s the deal – email is great for admin. You’ll need, though, either a phone call or a face-to-face when the following criteria apply:

  • You have to say something that could be taken the wrong way
  • You have critical/constructive feedback to deliver
  • There are stakes involved in the dialogue
  • You don’t want what you intend to put in writing to be printed and/or forwarded
  • The other person might feel disrespected if you don’t talk to them directly

Delivering feedback in this manner can be difficult … I know. Sometimes it’s hard to follow my own advice. But there are times when we have to remind ourselves that we’re leaders. Leaders do the hard stuff because they recognize that when things are uncomfortable, they’re stretching, growing, and probably doing the right thing.

Written by Angie Morgan via Leadstar. Visit Leadstar to read the full article.

Want a Solution for Productive Conflict?

Workplace conflict is inevitable. It’s tempting to avoid these uncomfortable situations altogether, but there’s a much more effective solution!

With Everything DiSC® Productive Conflict assessment profile, learners will discover how to curb destructive behaviors so that conflict can become more productive. This is not your average conflict resolution program. Everything DiSC Productive Conflict offers highly personalized content that helps learners increase self-awareness around conflict behaviors and effectively respond to conflict situations, which ultimately improves workplace results and relationships.  You can take individually or as team (in tact teams or cross-company).

Your learners will:

  • Explore the destructive and productive conflict behaviors of each personality DiSC® styles
  • Understand how to manage your response to conflict situations
  • Discover communication strategies when engaging in productive conflict with colleagues

Interested to learn more? Check out the Everything DiSC-Productive Conflict brochure!

Questions? We are happy to help!  Email us at