In your personal life, you want to get along with loved ones and avoid disagreements. When leading teams, clashing views is a healthy sign.
If team members rarely disagree, they may not care. As they go through the motions, they may conclude it's easier to nod a lot and not make waves. When employees hide their true feelings--or when they withhold their ideas or opinions--the group's output suffers. One or two strong personalities can hijack the proceedings as the rest of the team meekly falls into line. Goading your group's members to challenge each other and speak forthrightly is tougher than it sounds. If there's a lack of trust, then people will clam up. They will play it safe rather than risk voicing a viewpoint that stokes dissension.
Here's how to open the floodgates so that team members express themselves freely:
Emphasize independent thinking in.
When evaluating employees, rate their willingness to resist "groupthink." Give them high marks for sharing bold ideas and disagreeing diplomatically with others--and give lower appraisals if they never pipe up to present a different perspective.
Preassign teammates to argue.
Before a team meeting, ask two employees to prepare cases for and against a course of action. Tell them that the person who presents the most persuasive argument will win a prize. Encourage the audience to comment on both sides of the issue and propose fresh arguments so that everyone contributes to an energetic debate.
Disagree early and often.
Set an example by jousting with your team. Model the kind of civil two-way clash you want them to engage in. Say, "You've stated your position well. But I see it differently."