Is Everyone OK?

by

Conflict

“Is Everyone OK?” That has historically been my first response when someone brings up the word ‘conflict’. But with each decade, my view of conflict has shifted – from a must-avoid/must-fix mindset to one of more acceptance, tolerance, understanding and appreciation.

Conflict easily comes to the forefront in stressful times, including during the pandemic, when so much is unknown and many are feeling out of control.

Being ever solution-minded and analytical, I found a recent article about conflict, Eight causes of conflicts according to Art Bell and Brett Hart, Feb 14, 2020 . The article categorized all workforce conflicts into eight different types:

  • Conflicting Needs
  • Conflicting Styles
  • Conflicting Perceptions
  • Conflicting Goals
  • Conflicting Pressures
  • Conflicting Roles
  • Different Personal Values
  • Unpredictable Policies

Below are my thoughts on what to do about each of these types of conflicts.  

1.First accept that Conflict is a Part of Life @ Work.

Avoiding conflict may lead to much more conflict, or much more serious conflict. It’s far better to accept the fact that conflict will happen, and to find a way to accept that fact, and a strategy to ensure that relationships remain intact, communication remains transparent, and alignment is made between people, teams, and organization.

2. If you have conflicting Needs, find a way to negotiate a win-win.

This may involve an open discussion about resource management, or a prioritization of need, or even arranging for more resources and information so that all parties are happy.

3. If you have conflicting Styles, it’s critical to be able to understand the position of people who are not-like-you.

Being open-minded and curious will help all parties understand different viewpoints, different approaches. Welcoming other input will in general make teams and products stronger.

4. If you have conflicting Perceptions, it’s hard to agree on how to plan, how to act, how to progress.

It’s only when you understand first that you have mis-matched perceptions, and then work with the other parties to align on perceptions before you can plan, act and progress in a common direction.

5. If you have conflicting Goals, it’s hard to act as ONE, on the same team.

So it’s up to each of us to ensure that we focus on common goals, and understand the inter-relatedness of goals we set for ourselves and others across the organization.

6. If you have conflicting Pressures, work as a team to ensure that you’re delivering for others, and that others are delivering for you.

Trust, communication, planning, are all excellent strategies to help manage conflicts brought on by the pressures of performing when the team is relying on you.  Being a team player, and helping others to perform will help, as will celebrating successes and learning from failures.

7. If you have conflicting Roles, then it’s hard to meet expectations.

When a role doesn’t fit somebody, it’s hard for her/him to perform. Making sure you have the right people in the right role with reasonable expectations will help to address this conflict.

8. If you have different personal Values, it’s sometimes hard to see the others’ reality, and sometimes easy to unintentionally offend someone.

Being open and accepting will help us each be less reactive and judgmental. Being sensitive and thoughtful will help us maintain connections with people not-like-us.

9. If you have Unpredictable Policies, it’s hard for everyone to explain or follow the latest expectations.

Focus only on creating and updating the important policies to ensure you have a functional team and organization. Only making policy changes when necessary, and welcome input from the team.

10. The bottom line is back to the beginning – Conflict WILL exist. These are some keys for managing it well.

    • Create a Culture where Trust is earned and respected.
    • Communicate Continuously, Clearly and Authentically at all levels across the organization.
    • Welcome Collaboration, Diversity and Empowerment.
    • Be Positive: Celebrate Successes. Embrace Learning Opportunities.
    • Align Thinking, Speaking and Action for yourself, for your team, for your organization.

So embrace those opportunities for proactive, positive conflict. Everyone will be OK, and maybe better than OK because of it!


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