Positive conflict exercise for teams

Positive conflict exercise for teams


Purpose: Help learners see role conflict as a natural part of the workplace and that it can be productive for teams and individuals.

Prerequisite: None for participants. Facilitators should know something about the team’s mission, charge, or goals. Exercise can be used in conjunction with Everything DiSC Productive Conflict or the Conflict section of The Five Behaviors.

Materials: Easel pad; computer and projector

Time: 40 -45 minutes

Ask for everyone to say what their role is on the team. It can be as simple as a job title. Record these answers.

Ask the team to share with you the purpose of their team. What are the results they want? What are they trying to accomplish? Answers may vary and even contradict. Accept each answer and record them. Allow only minimal discussion. These answers should remain visible as you continue.

Now return to the question of roles. Draw a large circle and divide it into wedges, one for each person. Ask again what each person’s role is (these can shift in response to the discussion about team purpose) and place their role into a wedge.

Discuss as a team:

  • What tensions do you see just from the diagramming of roles?
  • What roles naturally come into conflict with each other?
  • What’s the unique value of each role?
  • What stakeholders outside this team does each role serve?
  • How does each role support the team’s mission?

Capture as much of the comments as you can.

Ask if there are tensions or conflicts that are necessary for their team to perform at its best. Talk about the importance of understanding that conflict can be productive and it can be uncomfortable. How can the team make it easier to allow natural role-based conflicts to occur and be worked out? Keep emphasizing that these conflicts among roles is normal and necessary. It’s important to hear from each role. It’s seldom that the conflict is the real problem, but how the conflict is avoided or inflated that becomes problematic.

Note: Personal conflicts are something different and outside this discussion. So are issues like budgets, access to data, or other resource-based conflicts that might surface. The focus for this exercise is roles-based only.


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