Articles tagged "Dealing with Conflict"
Maybe there’s something in the air or maybe the planets have shifted, or possibly we’re all just really tired of all of the turmoil. Whatever the cause, there’s an increase in personality-driven, team member conflicts. I’m seeing less patience and intentional conversations, and more clipped, curt, and non-candid conversations with managers and their teams. Whatever the nature, cause, or severity of your team member conflicts, how you as a leader respond says a lot about you, your leadership, and your organization’s culture.
A beautiful thing happened during a client work session this past week:
The management team experienced the value of clear, honest communication.
For some time this client has been under the incorrect assumption that its management team communicated well with each other. Yet invariably when I’d have a one-on-one meeting with any member of the management team, I’d hear comments along the lines of, “Well, I believe what he really wants to do is…” or “I don’t think she’s really clear on how to proceed with…” and other similar comments about their colleagues. They were more comfortable making assumptions about what others really wanted or believed, instead of simply asking pointed questions or confronting their peers to debate points of view. To them, good communication meant never challenging one another or pushing one another for more information. Needless to say, this wasn’t benefiting customers, the team, or the company.
This “non-communication” needed to stop and this was the week it was going to happen. I’d given them ample warning the one-on-one meetings were becoming counterproductive and were going to stop. It was time for honest, straight-forward communication from everyone — all the time. The team nervously anticipated our work session, because they knew I’d be challenging each of them in ways they didn’t do themselves. They believed I would work some magic to get them to open up and honestly communicate with each. I’m not a magician and I can’t do any tricks. I just don’t like poor communication.
So we established a basic ground rule:
All conversations had to focus on what was right for the customer, employees, or the company.
The conversations couldn’t get personal — they had to stay professional. Then, I simply had each person answer the questions asked of them directly. When they talked but didn’t answer a question, I’d ask the question again in a slightly different format or have the person who asked the question rephrase it. When someone veered off topic, I’d redirect him or her back to it. About 30 minutes into the session, I noticed a few of the managers start to follow my lead. They were starting to see that I wasn’t being mean; I was simply asking for information. If I got it, we’d move on. If I didn’t, I’d probe deeper and ask more questions to help spur thought or uncover information. The team started enjoying themselves as they learned to communicate as professional peers. The team heard information about projects that many of them had no idea were in the works or which were facing serious problems. They learned disagreeing could be productive. They offered ideas to help stalled projects move forward. The work session was productive and the managers seemed to have developed a greater respect for one another. They’d enjoyed having some difficult conversions. They’d enjoyed communicating honestly. It was beautiful!
If your managers talk but don’t communicate, show them how to communicate. Let them experience honest communication. It’s a beautiful thing.
Copyright MMVII – Liz Weber, CMC, CSP – Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about me on LinkedIn!
It’s happening again. I’m witnessing a new “leader” become ineffective and the senior team’s confidence in him is starting to lag. The leader is losing his effectiveness even though he’s already implemented several much needed programs for the organization. He’s losing his effectiveness because he’s afraid to do one of the toughest things required of a leader: he’s afraid to hold a key staff member accountable to do her job efficiently, accurately, and professionally.
It’s been happening more and more. Clients are complaining about their managers’ inappropriate behaviors, lack of management skills, and inability to take on greater responsibilities. Yet, when I ask if they have discussed the problem areas with their managers, they say, “It won’t do any good. I talked to them about this years ago and they never changed.”
One of the quickest ways to alienate new employees, restrict their skill development, and keep an organization stuck in a proverbial rut, is to tolerate employee cliques and allow them to control production.
What are they? Employee cliques are destructive employee groupings (gangs) that don’t welcome new employees (outsiders). They view new employees and their ideas as threats to the status quo. To them, new employees are a waste of their time—particularly if they have to train the new person who (in their minds) will (in all probability) quit in a few months anyway. So why bother? La-dee-da.
Take a step back and ask yourself, “If I were a new employee, would I want to continue to work for an organization where the current employees don’t want me around and won’t train me?” Doubt it. I know I wouldn’t. I would leave and find someplace else to work—a place where I felt wanted and appreciated. And if I leave, the veteran employees will (in their minds) be vindicated, “See, we told you she’d leave.”
Here is what you as the leader can do:
- Recognize if and where destructive cliques exist in your organization
- Gather your veteran employees together and discuss why they feel the way they do towards new hires
- Develop a program, with a select group of veteran employees and your management team, to develop a new hire orientation program to quickly train and orient new employees into your organization, without unduly burdening current staff
- Continue to work with veteran and rookie staff members to identify ways to better integrate the ‘old’ knowledge and skills with the ‘new’
Trust me: If you don’t take action to correct the power of the cliques, they (not you) will control your employee population, its skill level, your employee turnover rates, and ultimately, your organization’s ability to move forward.
Copyright MMII – Liz Weber, CMC, CSP – Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching.