New Team, New Conflicts
It seems as though many of my friends have, or are starting a business. We move on in our lives and we strive to be the best we can be. To maintain this strong positive outlook and to be our authentic selves. Perhaps this is why we choose to start a business to live and do what we always wanted to do. The sense of freedom, the feeling that we are making a difference in the world. As we make a business we grow, we have our ups and downs and continue to push forward. The more we push we take on more responsibilities and eventually we take on so many roles that one day we will have to hire someone new into our team.
As we bring a new team mate into our circle we are bringing in a new individual. This individual has their own views and belief systems that may go with our own or it may go against our own. This individual may not have the same upbringing and as such may go about doing things in a very new way that may seem foreign to us. This clash of ideologies will eventually create conflicts within our environment. Words will be exchanged. Sometimes nasty words, there will be arguments and conflicts. How these conflicts are handled can make or break: you, your business and the new team mate that has just come aboard.
More too often than not the first method a lot of bosses go to is an immediate firing or disciplinary action. I have, from my own experience, rarely seen a boss work through the conflict in a respectful manner. As well, leading my own teams I have had to learn some of these mistakes myself. How can we differentiate from being a boss and a team leader?
This is perhaps the most crucial element of resolving conflicts in general for a couple reasons. One of the first reasons is the fact that we listen at roughly 500 words a minutes and the human mouth speaks at approximately 120 words a minute. The gap in processing lets our brain idle, your brain not working at full work load so we are prone to drift oft and create other thoughts. We can call this simple act: day dreaming. As a listener it is our duty to be an active and respective listener and not a day dreamer.
One of the first ways we can do this is let the person fully explain themselves. As they do this we need to pay attention to the details. I outlined in a previous post that the details make everything in life, make us happy and appreciate what is around us. We can use the same premise when it comes to listening the verbal clues, the tones all play important roles. If you argue via text message what needs to be said is even harder to get across effectively. As a leader the best job here is to pick up a phone and schedule a meeting or talk on the phone and let the individual talk. It's very easy to interrupt the conversation and start firing back words (something I also know by experience).
Good things come in threes. If you feel like the person is done talking wait roughly three seconds. This may help the individual continue talking and further get their point across. It is your job to help others feel respected and cared about. As you listen make sure to be an active listener, with some acknowledgement, some times a physical head not, or saying, "okay" may help ensure the other is feeling heard and is comfortable. You are a leader and not a boss aren't you? (This is where you say yes to yourself).
You are a leader, not a boss and more importantly you are a human. Humans have feelings and that is a fact. Your feelings belong to yourself just as the others feelings belong to them. How they feel is how they feel and you cannot change it, but you can influence them to help them feel more welcome and respected. A true leader is an authentic human being; part of being authentic is showing vulnerability. To show vulnerability is to simply accept responsibility for our actions. Perhaps you actually did make a mistake and perhaps you actually hurt the others feelings. In a more simple way, apologize. There is an extreme lack of human presence in humans anymore. You're not a corporate robot. You are a human, you are a leader!
The radical thing about accepting responsibility is it helps us move forward into a more productive zone where we can work to resolve the conflicts for both parties.
Gather the Facts
I am a big proponent of this section of the post. As we level the playing field we have shown we are both human and equals in this world and we are on a similar path working towards a common goal we can begin to gather the facts to further diffuse the situation. The reason for an argument is often not on the surface. There is other personal factors at play when it comes to why one person is upset. As I stated earlier every individual has their own belief system, was raised different and so they all have their own different opinions on how things should be. Asking questions helps us remove any ignorance from the problems at hand and in turn ultimately helps create bliss. [Ignorance in not bliss, one just simply has to understand].
When asking questions let's try asking questions that stick to the facts and try to avoid emotional arguments. As the emotions rise our intelligence levels decrease. We get blinded by emotions. If you need to state an opinion make sure it is known that is, indeed, your opinion. Do not try to further push your opinion on others, it's your opinion, not theirs just as their feelings are theirs not yours. You cannot change this. Gather the facts so you can understand and educate yourself.
If you know me I believe in a co-operative ecosystem. One where we can work together and grow as an individuals, a company and industry. Great leaders know how to work together. In reference to conflicts we have listened to the argument being made, we have accepted responsibility, and gathered the facts. It is not time for us to work together for a common solution where we can find a way to prop each other up. Being a straight forward person I have been straight to the point I will usually say something like, " How can we work together to find a solution that works for both of us?", or "how can we resolve this together?"
This simple statement goes from a team working against each other to a team working with each other. As individuals, a company, industry, nation, etc. when we stand together we stand united, we are strong, when we divide we fall. When we work together we all have a say in the outcome to build a better organization.
Sometimes things cannot be worked out quickly. As I stated earlier as our emotions rise our intelligence levels go way down. If one individual or another is so worked up for the situation at hand try not do do any rash decisions. You as a leader shouldn't fire the employee and if the employee is angry they may come at you with some harsh words. Keep in mind the raised emotions versus intelligence levels. Let the individual work out their anger and give them a couple hours or even days to get back to their normal, non emotionally charged selves. You as a leader should also not fire off rash decisions. More often than not I see a person in a leadership role instantly fire this individual. This individual can be an amazing team member and one mistake they are gone. Let both parties bring back the intelligence to the situation and each should take a break apart from each other.
Let's give each other the best chance of creating an outcome that works for every individual so we can all win. Conflicts may bring us down and play a role on our psyche, we may use anxiety to think about the worst possible outcomes. With proper understanding of individuals we can create bliss and a positive culture in every aspect. One where we all free to be ourselves and be respected. Life isn't always great but we can make it alright.
Bonus tips from careertipster:
7 1/2 Tips on Handling Workplace Conflict:by http://careertipster.com/careerdev/why-conflict-is-great-for-the-workplace/
Be Respectful and Control your Emotions – Always maintain professionalism.
Stick to Facts – Avoid making emotional arguments, making value judgments, exaggerating, or being sarcastic. Focus on facts and observations to logically present points.
Ask Questions – Don't make assumptions about others' viewpoints. Ask questions and genuinely care about understanding someone else's viewpoint.
Mitigate Unhealthy Conflict Management by Others – When dealing with people, not everyone will play by the rules so recognize when others aren't and mitigate their poor behavior by using humor, mediating, re-stating points, clarifying, or even tabling the conversation to let people calm down if it gets to that point.
Validate Others' Points – Recognize and validate other peoples' points and try to find some consensus. Show appreciation for points made even if you disagree. Remember, understanding is the goal vs. agreement.
Manage your Communication – Communication skills are always key to having healthy conflict but even if you master your diplomatic verbal communication skills, manage your body language as well. Watch what you say, how you say it, and what your body is doing when you say it!
7 ½. – Remember, no one is perfect – You won't always handle conflict in the best way possible. Do your best and remember that workplace conflict is normal and isn't something to be avoided or feared.