Do You Have Artificial Harmony? Learn How to Embrace Productive Conflict Behaviors and Get Better Than Imagined Results.

When JackieO does something wrong, she goes and hides and avoids people.

This reminds me of a similar workplace situation when a CEO called a meeting with his key members to address a productivity issue. On the surface, things seemed fine. The team members were cordial and friendly, not offering much conversation about the issue at hand. Without warning, Bob spoke up and said, “Susie’s work product is all wrong and 25% of the time I have to redo it.” Susie was taken off guard and embarrassed to be accused of poor work performance in the meeting. Neither the leader nor the co-workers knew what to do or say. Susie had the choice at that moment to act. She could deflect blame, make excuses or say nothing. She chose to do nothing in the meeting and later met with a co-worker to complain about Bob throwing her under the bus.

Enter the concept of artificial harmonya workplace facade where things seem nice on the surface when what is happening beneath is a brewing storm of negativity and underlying tension causing a break in the team foundation. It destroys team collaboration by promoting passive aggression and power struggles. The bottom line is that when you have a low-trust workplace, it leads to artificial harmony, destructive conflict, and blame in the face of mistakes.

Artificial harmony hinders results, effectiveness, profitability, and organizational growth. A Wiley study of 12,000 employees on destructive conflict revealed that 2 out of 5 employees left a job because of ineffective ways of handling conflict. That adds up to 4,000 people who left good jobs. One CEO told me that the average cost to replace a $50,000 to $75,000 employee was over $100,000 in low productivity, disruption to the team, morale issues, and costs associated with retraining. That is expensive to the bottom line. Think about it… people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their bosses.

The common element of these organizations is the leaders have not been equipped with the skills to create a culture of trust and safety. This isn’t about workplace safety measures, it’s about personal feelings of safety and well-being, about building an organization that is first grounded in safety. Then you can build a culture of trust. Here’s a surprising truth: safety creates trust; trust does not create safety.

Consider this: On a scale of 1 to 10, how safe do your employees feel to speak up in your organization? How much trust exists among your team members? If it’s anything less than 10, there’s work to be done. Team members excel in organizations when they operate at a level 10 in both safety and trust.

The key lies in navigating the space between destructive conflict and positive conflict, or what I call pure flow. To achieve pure flow, where true magic happens, everyone must open up, communicate positively, take ownership of their actions, and foster a sense of community.

Many leaders struggle to transition from artificial harmony to pure flow because they lack the knowledge to elevate everyone’s abilities and practice vulnerability-based trust. My frameworks can help supercharge your leaders and team to new levels of cohesiveness and productivity. They help leaders catapult their organizations to new heights, fostering a culture of safety and trust.

When leaders take action and align high-trust behaviors, mistakes are seen as opportunities for the team to rally together and improve. Team members assume positive intent.

Reflecting on the original story, we can be assured that in a high trust environment, Bob would have approached Susie and asked her what was going on with her work. If that organization was operating in true harmony, Bob would have been concerned and offered to support her and rallied to help. Bob would not have called Susie out in front of a group of people and Susie would have had the tools to communicate her need for support before the productivity meeting.

To attain pure flow or true harmony, you need teamwork, collaboration, shared vision, vulnerability, and supportive communication. It’s about creating an environment where magic thrives. If your company is stuck in destructive conflict or artificial harmony, I can guide you toward making the leap to pure flow, where the real magic happens and your employees love to come to work.

Through time and lots of encouragement, JackieO is getting better every day and is living more in flow and perfect harmony.

How Do We Play Nice in the Sandbox?


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