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专栏 - 向Anne提问

化解职场冲突:冲突比客套更有必要

Anne Fisher 2014年09月11日

Anne Fisher为《财富》杂志《向Anne提问》的专栏作者,这个职场专栏始于1996年,帮助读者适应经济的兴衰起落、行业转换,以及工作中面临的各种困惑。
不惜一切代价保持友好的文化,反而会扼杀合作。本文将介绍如何鼓励不同意见的存在。

    亲爱的安妮:我近期经历了工作调动,现在主管新产品开发工作。这是(可能成为)令人兴奋的事,但是我碰到一个奇怪的问题。参与项目合作的两个团队相处得不好:各方都认为对方设置的最后期限不切实际,而且最近他们都来我办公室讽刺挖苦“对方”。

    我知道这听起来很幼稚,但是公司长期以来形成一种文化,即使同事之间不能相互忍受,每个人总是表现得很友好(至少当面如此)。公司的人事部开设了冲突解决培训课程,但是培训内容不涉及实际冲突,只是涉及这种敌对和不信任的氛围。您或您的读者对此有何建议?——I.C.

    亲爱的I.C.:看来你遇到的真正问题,是同事之间不能坦诚相待,而是向你提出他们的抱怨。这种情况非常常见。伊夫•莫里厄表示,在许多工作场所,同事之间努力保持表面上的友好,因为这样让人觉得更愉快。尽管摩擦带来压力,但有时这正是项目需要的氛围。

    “当同事之间相互争论时,不一定比‘和睦相处’产生更坏的结果。”他表示,“事实上,不同意见、紧张和权衡是真正合作的基础。”

    莫里厄是波士顿咨询公司(Boston Consulting Group)的合伙人,也是新书《六个简单法则》(Six Simple Rules)的合著者。他拥有与多家公司共事的经验。在此期间,太多的和谐掩盖了重大问题,而这些问题只有在人们相互争论时才能得到解决。

    引用书中的一个案例:某移动通信网络的多个工程团队争执不休,高层管理人员把他们召集在一起,并让最不受欢迎的团队负责。这样一来,他们不得不讨论解决各种问题,例如不切实际的最后期限问题。讨论有时很激烈,这是不可避免的。但是,在被迫详细讨论各方的需求和限制条件后,他们制定了有效的日程安排。

    莫里厄建议,你可以在你的敌对团队中采取类似的做法。他建议分三步进行:

    •不再忌讳敌对。因为现有文化建立在避免冲突的基础之上,所以这需要一定的耐心。但是要让他们看到你是认真的,而且你不再容忍私下的“冷嘲热讽”。他建议,“把双方聚在一起,询问他们为什么未就不同意见达成解决方案。通常情况下,双方会相互指责——对方团队顽固、不妥协、懒惰、自负等等。”这些都没有关系。“把紧张甚至愤怒摊开来说,这样每个人都能意识到,这一点很重要。”

    Dear Annie: I was recently transferred here from another part of the company and put in charge of developing a new product. It’s pretty exciting, or has the potential to be, but I’m running into a weird problem. The two teams responsible for collaborating on this project do not get along—each team thinks the other has set impossible deadlines, for one thing—and lately people have started coming into my office to make snide comments about the “other side.”

    This sounds infantile, I know, but there is a longstanding culture here of everyone being nice and polite all the time (at least to each other’s faces), even when they can’t stand each other. Our HR department offers training in conflict resolution, but there is no actual conflict; just this atmosphere of antagonism and distrust. Do you or your readers have any suggestions on how to handle this? —In the Crossfire

    Dear I.C.: It sounds as if the real problem here is that people are bringing their complaints to you instead of being honest with each other. That’s not unusual. In too many workplaces, says Yves Morieux, colleagues try to keep up a façade of niceness because it’s more pleasant. But friction, however stressful, is sometimes what a project needs.

    “When people are arguing with each other, it’s not necessarily worse than ‘getting along,’” he says. “In fact, real cooperation depends on disagreements, tensions, and tradeoffs.”

    A partner at Boston Consulting Group and co-author of a new book, Six Simple Rules, Morieux has worked with plenty of companies where too much harmony masked big problems that were only resolved once people started yelling at each other.

    One example from the book: At a cell phone network where several engineering teams were at odds, senior management put them together—and put the least popular group in charge—so they’d have no choice but to hash out issues like unworkable deadlines. The discussions were unavoidably heated at times, but being forced to talk through everyone’s needs and constraints led to schedules that worked.

    Morieux suggests you do something similar with your warring teams. He recommends starting with these three steps:

    •Stop making confrontation taboo.This may take some patience, as the culture up until now has been built on avoiding conflict. But people have to see that you mean it, and that you will no longer tolerate snide remarks behind closed doors. “Bring the two sides together and ask them why there has been no solution yet to the disagreements between them,” he suggests. “Usually each side will blame the other—the other team is stubborn, inflexible, lazy, a bunch of prima donnas, whatever.” That’s fine. “It’s important to get tensions and even anger out on the table, where everyone can see them.”

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