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Part III: Working Together > Handling Differences

Chapter 20. Handling Differences

Being human, team members are naturally different. Many teams are purposely recruited with built-in differences in the hope that team members will work them out and eventually use them to their advantage. As a result, tension within teams is expected. Most gradually overcome these frictions and become productive. But if team members focus solely on “What’s in it for me?” or “What’s wrong with her?” instead of “What’s in it for the team?” progress gets slowed down.

Conflicts are critical forks in a team’s path. Maturing teams learn how to work through or around personal needs without undermining the team. This often stimulates creativity and opens stagnant minds. On the other hand, inexperienced teams sometimes make things worse by ignoring situations until they blow up. They may label those who speak up as “non-team players” and treat them as second-class citizens, which turns conflicts personal. Don’t sweep recurring tensions under the rug. Talk to your team leader about them sooner rather than later.


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