Why You Need to Address Conflict on Your Team
If you've spent any time at all in any organization, I bet you have walked into a room and sensed conflict.
We like to joke about it and even behave in passive-aggressive ways about it, but it's easy to feel conflict and once you've felt it, you see it clearly where it exists. People won't talk openly to each other, hurt feelings intensify and productivity suffers. Metaphorically speaking, the oxygen in the room changes to carbon monoxide. Things are tense. Again, it's pretty easy to see it now in the room, solving it may be much more complicated.
What may be hard to believe, but is accurate because I have witnessed it, is that senior leaders see and recognize this, yet they never take the necessary team building steps or even the next step to resolve the conflict. They see a couple of their employees who have ongoing, continual conflict and everyone else sees it as well. But the leaders carry on business as usual and refuse to address it. When this happens, the climate of the room and even in some cases, the climate of the team, becomes toxic and unhealthy.
As senior leadership, you have the accountability to handle conflicts within your own team and your direct report teams. If those who are on the team with you and those in your direct report line can't trust you will be a reliable mediator during these situations, then you will watch helplessly as conflict and tension take over your team.
You need four things to approach this situation during team building:
Good, fair judgment
You'll need the courage to address it and fortitude to realize and hang in there if one meeting doesn't do the trick because often it doesn't. You should be a model of the core values and be able to stick with this to make sure those values are upheld. In almost every situation I have seen that has conflict in it, a value of the organization has been violated. In order to bring the conflicted folks to a reasonable and better resolution, you'll need good, fair judgment to make a ruling and then consistency to be always fair in each situation and to be a model of the values you are trying to enforce and get the parties to adopt.
If you don't have courage and fortitude, then the conflict will continue to simmer and boil over to the rest of your team and eventually across departmental lines to the entire organization. If you don't have good, fair judgment and consistency, your direction won't be good or followed and your destination will end up being even worse. To be a senior leader in an organization and function well, you must be healthy on the inside yourself. If not, you won't be able to pivot and successfully face the challenges coming at you from outside the organization, ones coming from the senior leadership team you are a part of, and your own team in which you are accountable.
Questions for you:
Have you ever had a leader who effectively dealt with team conflict? If so, what did they do that stood out to you?
How do you think you can go about dealing with conflict practically either now or in the future?
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