How do you handle team leaders in conflict?
It’s one thing when your front-line team members have conflict, but it is a whole new matter when your key leaders are in conflict with each other. If your leaders are “sideways” or in disagreement with each other, you would be wise to not let it just work itself out.
We spend a lot of time at work with people most of us never choose to spend time with. Conflict is costly – especially if it is within the leadership. Leaders can influence their team in negative ways that cause disharmony and discord that ripple throughout the organization.
Most employees are not paid to deal with leadership discord and when it exists, it distracts from their primary purpose. Situations can get more complex and communication may stop problem-solving and collaboration, thus lowering efficiency and productivity and costing the organization time and money.
Here are my top 3 tips to get your leaders back on track from the front lines.
Be proactive to address conflict
Don’t wait for conflict to build. There is no one right way to deal with conflict, but NOT dealing with it is the one wrong way to deal with it. Good healthy work environments are easier to fix when conflicts first arise. Like growing plants, you must provide the right environment for it to thrive.
If the farmer wants corn, she plants corn. But then you have to be watchful for the weeds that can overcome a crop. If you want healthy, excited, engaged, problem-solving staff, plant personal growth among your people – in all areas. Tend to them, pull the weeds and nourish them. Don’t expect people to grow on their own.
Over-communicate with your team
Yes, this will slow you down at first, but you will be glad you did IF you do it right. Most people mistakenly think other people think like they do, but they don’t. Be open, honest and transparent when working out challenges. Set some quick guidelines and let each person speak without being interrupted, repeat what you heard and validate the comments.
You may need to deal with some things here, but that’s okay. Once you have, the bigger goal is to build trust among your leaders. If they trust each other, they don’t waste time protecting their silos or working against one another. This tension rarely goes away after one meeting. Schedule more times to check in and keep moving forward. Forgiveness and grace are needed. Without forgiveness and grace, some leaders keep rehashing the past.
Paint a bigger picture for your team
Paint a bigger picture of where we need to go as an organization. Ask:
- Why are we working here?
- What is the bigger picture?
- Why did this organization hire us?
- What are our goals and how can we do this?
What we have to see is the bigger picture and how we get to a solution, or even maybe how we just get past the conflict? Can we deal with the root issues or must we agree to disagree?
If this gets too complicated, you may have to call in outside help. Be patient and let the trust build. The leader’s leader must be intentional in bringing about a resolution. Wounds rarely heal completely through neglect. If they do heal, they heal wrong and the overall health and well-being of an organization are jeopardized.