Just Say It - A guide to Healthy Conflict in the Workplace

One of the most common topics of discussion with my clients is managing conflict with employees. Conflict, it seems, is something that many entrepreneurs, managers, and employees all want to avoid. The reality is that the longer this goes on, the bigger and more complicated the conflict can become. We all can site examples of losing a valuable employee or customer because we failed to deal with the most delicate issues when they first appeared.

The truth is, most people don’t like conflict, but it is also a sign of a very healthy leadership team when your organization’s employees are empowered to defend their ideas, engage in passionate discussion, and solve issues that have the potential to trigger some emotional distress. In working with my clients I always ask for two things as a requirement for our work together - be open. be honest. As simple as that is, it is a very difficult skill to master with a leadership team. When coaching, I offer up 3 suggestions for them to work on to improve their conflict resolution in the organization -

1 - Build trust with your entire team. This takes time, but is some of the most important work you can do. Make sure you put the time in to build relationships, show that you understand and care about your people, and recognize their contributions and hard work. When times get though, you will need every once of trust to get through the difficult conversations and issues you face.

2 - Just say it. When attempting to solve issues and get the best thinking out on the table to solve problems, your people need to know that it’s ok to say what is really on their mind. When you sense that there is tension around an issue, encourage your team to speak up and just say what they need to say to move the conversation forward.

3 - No politicking. It’s very frustrating to deal with an employee with an agenda that they insist on convincing the rest of the team to agree with. The tactic is both time consuming and exhausting to deal with, and worse yet, often results in a decision that is highly unlikely to succeed. As a rule, make sure your team knows that politicking isn’t a helpful way to resolve conflicts in the workplace and will be called out quickly if it occurs.

For more help on this topic, please reach out. I’d be happy to help!

Casey Petz