The Dark Side of Artificial Harmony in the Workplace

Artificial harmony in the workplace is convenient. It creates the illusion of a happy and peaceful team.

In such an environment:

  • uncomfortable conversations and conflicts are avoided
  • people are left undisturbed to work independently

However – despite its apparent appeal – artificial harmony kills performance.

Great results occur when there is constructive conflict, where diverse ideas and perspectives are openly discussed, leading to the identification of growth opportunities.

Yet, many leaders prefer artificial harmony over constructive conflict for several reasons:

1) Maintaining the illusion of unity

Artificial harmony creates the appearance of a united and cohesive team, even if there are underlying disagreements or tensions. This can be useful for presenting a positive image to external stakeholders or superiors.

2) Avoiding disruption

Conflict can be disruptive and time-consuming. Leaders may fear that addressing conflicts openly could lead to delays in decision-making and hinder progress on important tasks or projects.

3) Preserving authority

Leaders who prioritize artificial harmony may do so to maintain their authority and control over the team. They may feel that allowing open conflict could challenge their leadership or undermine their position.

4) Fear of losing team members

Leaders might worry that addressing conflicts openly could lead to team members leaving or becoming demotivated. Artificial harmony may seem like a way to prevent this and retain team members.

5) Desire for consensus

Some leaders believe that seeking consensus and avoiding conflict leads to better team cohesion and cooperation. They may think that conflict could fragment the team and reduce overall productivity.

6) Perception of conflict as negative

Some leaders view conflict as inherently negative and disruptive, failing to recognize that constructive conflict can lead to better ideas, improved problem-solving, and innovation.

7) Personal discomfort

Some leaders may not feel equipped to handle conflict effectively and fear making the situation worse. Artificial harmony might seem like an easier way to avoid uncomfortable conversations.

My suggestion: 👇

Unaddressed conflicts can lead to resentment, reduced trust and decreased team performance.

Great leaders – on the other hand – recognize the value of constructive conflict.

They encourage their team to openly share diverse perspectives to find better ideas and solutions.

They do it by preventing personal attacks.

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