Leadership Article


The 2 Most Common Mistakes in Dealing with Workplace Conflict

What is conflict and what can you do about it?
Good questions. Whenever you have people, you are going to have conflict. There's no getting around it. I define conflict as a disagreement between priorities or expectations between two or more people. It usually involves one person undermining another's values. In my 20+ years of professional experience, I've noticed that corporate leaders tend to make the same mistakes when they're trying to get their teams to deliver results. The problem is, many people don't know how to deal with conflict - or even see it coming.

Here are 2 things you can pay attention to right away. They'll help you stop problems before they get out of hand.

Busy corporate leaders tend to DENY that conflict exists. They see it as a bad thing and avoid it all together. The first thing to do is notice how your project teams are performing. Are they missing their milestones?
Do they have a high rate of turnover?
Are they not delivering the results you want?
If so, you probably have a team that is in trouble and facing some form of unresolved conflict. Consult with each of your team members individually to find out what's really getting in the way of their progress. Having an impartial third party can be the most effective and efficient way to surface the real issue so your team can get back on track.

Fighting the Conflict
Most people simply don't know how to deal with volatile situations. They try to "out gun" them, thinking of them as battles to be won. But, that's a risky path to go down. This poor strategy could end up fueling the fire and blowing up in your face.

Ever have a program manager who was so frustrated and frazzled that he would throw verbal rocks at the team members during the status meeting? I remember one in particular who had that style and it did nothing to solve the real issues. He was under so much pressure that he ended up attacking the team members instead of providing the leadership they needed. All it did was create more animosity within the ranks and stalled the resolution of technical problems.

You want to be sure that you understand the purpose of mediating conflict: to help those involved get back to productive interactions. You want an outcome that works for everyone. It's not about just making it "go away" or getting people to "shut up."

Take the time to stop, listen and learn: what is the real objective that everyone is trying to accomplish? Facilitating a conversation that allows everyone involved to communicate their point of view will help you better guide and direct your team towards a positive solution.

Real Change Experts are trained to listen well and facilitate without bias or expectations. As an objective and skilled third party, we establish trust immediately, get to the core issues and help resolve them quickly.

To learn more about how you can avoid costly leadership mistakes and help your team perform better ask about our 5 Key Steps (3-hour workshop)

  • Identify the early warning signs of a team on the brink of derailment so you don't put an important project in jeopardy.
  • Get your teams to communicate openly and address the core issues that are stopping their progress.
  • Turn disagreements into innovations, so you can keep up with the evolving market.
  • Get your teams to settle disputes quickly and independently (so you can get back to bringing in revenue).
  • Get your team to cooperate with renewed enthusiasm so they meet deadlines within budget.