3. INFORMATION: CONFLICTING FACTS OR AN INFORMATION VACUUM FILLED WITH DIVERSE OPINION
There's a saying that we like to use in our workshops, which is that everybody's entitled to their own opinion, but not their own set of facts.
And you can understand why. It's going to be pretty hard to agree on how to proceed when your team is working with conflicting information about what is true. If some people believe our factory’s assembly line can produce 1,000 units in an hour and others believe 5,000 then how will the group work together to plan work schedules? If most of the group believes customers are satisfied with your current project but a few team members believe that most customers are highly dissatisfied then creating a product improvement plan for next year is going to be contentious.
What to do: Seed the team with common and hopefully accurate information.
Give your team the official source of information about the different topics you’re covering and then have some sort of method to resolve uncertainties, such as conducting additional research.
Also, if you still find you have some conflicting information, it helps to clarify the difference between a fact and an opinion or a belief.
Start by simply inquiring what supporting data our sources have led that individual to their view. If there is data behind their perspective, review it because it may help settle the issue.
If a statement is just something that someone believes, then respect that as that person's opinion. It certainly could be true, even if you don't have any facts or any sort of data to support it.
But request they review any data that may be available to double check their perspective. There’s no shame in having a belief or theory which is then disproven by subsequent data. Scientists do it all the time.
4. HUMANITY: TEAMMATES DON'T SEE EACH OTHER IN A THREE-DIMENSIONAL WAY
If Sally sees Bob as just “That guy from IT who whatever we ask for always says it's going to take a year and cost a million dollars,” And Bob sees Sally as, “That woman from ‘the business’ who always blames IT for everything,” they are not going to be as good a team member as if they know a little bit about each other and see each other as three-dimensional people.
What to do: Help team members get to know each other.
Encourage socializing. Take the team out to dinner or drinks so they talk more informally.
You can also start meetings with quick icebreaker activities like asking everyone to quickly share their favorite vacation spot or playing a quick game of “two truths and a lie.” These activities might seem frivolous but in fact they have a lot of business value because when a team sees each other in a more fully human way they work together much more effectively.
Those are the four areas where problems usually occur. For better teamwork, try to do an even better job of defining goals, making sure the vocabulary is crystal clear, seeding the team with the right information, and seeing to it that there's good humanity within the team.
Conflict is inherently good on a team because usually it comes from a difference of opinion. That difference of opinion is an important part of why you have a team.
You want multiple people on the team to bring different perspectives, different types of expertise and different mindsets around risk. And then hopefully the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and certainly greater than only one person's opinion.