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。
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.”