Top 5 ways to manage conflict at work

346. Agreement

Conflict at work is the number 1 biggest stress factor for those signed off from their work. I covered those stresses in my last post. So here’s my top 5 ways to keep conflict to a minimum at work:

 

1. Be generous with information

It’s a challenge to stay in relationship with a colleague when they can’t do their job as effectively because they don’t have all the information. When projects, teams, schedules or leadership change make sure everyone who needs to know – bosses, peers, direct report, PAs – has the information and the context. If at all possible inform your network before the decision is done and dusted because there may be knowledge around that, if shared in a timely way, could influence a richer outcome for all.

 

2. Name the challenge

If I had a pound (or a dollar) for the number of times I heard a professional not take accountability for something not going 100% to plan I’d be … well, richer than I am right now. Here’s how to name a challenge: ‘I would be more effective next time if I:

  • develop my communication skills’
  • shared more information before the meeting
  • ask for contributions from the board, the team, our customers in time to influence the outcome
  • learned how to use that software more efficiently
  • was completely prepared around the numbers before I make a decision
  • listened more and talked less
  • let go of a bit more control and perhaps delegated some of the tasks to other departments who’re better informed

When you’re in the business of taking responsibility for your contribution you’re in the business of successfully being able to refine your skills to get a better result next time. Blame is exhausting, demoralising and  part of ‘the old game’.

 

3. Respect difference

It’s comfortable to surround yourself with people who agree with your style and those who affirm to each other how right they are. It’s also a sure sign that the business you’re in will have a shorter life-cycle than a competitor with a healthy culture of challenging, debating, refining processes, and exploring new markets, clients, systems, team mixes and partnerships. It’s not necessarily about having a mix of age, gender, culture, belief, sexual orientation, mental & physical ability or faith groups among your employees (although that’s a good start), it’s more about having an openness to feedback and new suggestions whether from employees or from customer.

 

What worked historically may not be a guaranteed formula for the product or marketplace to come. Developing a culture of many right ways is a formula for reducing conflict. Stepping away from black and white thinking and embracing infinite shades of grey!

 

4. Use time as a tool

It’s tempting to want to have a conversation or a decision concluded in a first meeting or by the close of play today. Information or conversations that make you uncomfortable are often pointing to areas that you many not have considered or may not be as familiar with as your professional norm. Ask yourself ‘where is there value in further considering this point’; ‘how can I test to see if what’s being said makes business sense’; ‘how can I learn to listen more un-judgementally’. And then give it a day or two – everything softens. Just because a conversation had a difficult outcome last time doesn’t mean that’ll be the case next time you try. Ultimately everyone finds conflict stressful, so use time to allow all parties to find a peaceful way forward.

 

5. Take nothing personally

Most people don’t mean to offend or challenge. Communicating with tact and being good with change and difference are skill sets; they can take years to develop and even then they’re constantly in need of refinement because business, diversity and social acceptability are moving, changing entities. Developing a mindset of ‘allowing’ is part of the process of mastery in leadership and professionalism. It’s not reasonable to go through life or work expecting never to be offended. When the times do come (and they will)  this STOP method is often a good prompt:

  • Stop for a moment before you speak
  • Take 3 deep breaths and smile (if you can)
  • Observe what’s just been said; ask ‘why am I reacting to that’
  • Proceed with compassion

 

Mastery in handling conflict is not about doing it better than other people, it’s about doing it better than you did last time.

 

Jennifer Broadley is one of the UK's leading executive coaches. She works with corporate leaders, business directors and successful entrepreneurs. She specialises in continued high performance, intuitive leadership and personal & professional accomplishment. Jennifer is passionate about the ongoing self improvement of the world's future business leaders – the way-showers for our precious next generation. She coaches, speaks and writes on 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®. Her book of the same name is available on www.Amazon.co.uk . To talk further you can call, email or message Jennifer from www.JenniferBroadley.com .

How conflict affects the bottom line

Work conflict

Succeeding through conflict at work can be one of the most valuable skills any leader develops. A team whose differences are respected amongst each other – strengths, work patterns, communication styles, personalities and life choices – is a powerful team. A manager who encourages diversity and is equipped to manage difference skillfully is an asset to any company.

 

One of the most stressful things in any professional’s life is heading in to work every day knowing that there’s someone they have to interact with that will cause them stress. To do this day-in-day-out, for weeks and months on end is like slow torture and can lead to anxiety, sick days and physical and mental health issues. All too often this is not the result of 2 people in a team who can’t get on, it’s the result of a manager, not being equipped to spot relationship difficulties amongst their people, and if they do spot it, not having the skills to manange the process towards awareness, resolve and active professional development.

 

I have seen and heard of extraordinary examples of badly managed teams AND badly managed managers. These include:

  • public humiliations of jobs done badly around a table of 14 team leaders - with projects critically picked apart in front of peers ‘why did it happen?! what were you thinking?! this is worse than useless?!’;
  • an manager avoiding a growing conflict situation between 2 members of her team. This escalated into a violent outburst from one team member who was subsequently (understandably) signed off and hospitalised with acute stress. The future investigation focussed on the actions of the 2 employees, and not on the manager as requiring intensive further training and development;
  • a 22-years-in-the-business director whose team turnover was extensive. His managers were constantly fed with non-timely, incomplete information, given little direction, and were used as scapegoats when projects or tasks failed to hit timelines or budget. This director played a very political game within the board of the company (very old school), undermining (over time) his managers, who ultimately took their skills elsewhere. Important to note that the company in this case had invested £0 in the professional development of this director in over 2 decades.

As a corporate and executive coach I mainly deal with high performing, aware professionals who strive to be clear about their strengths and their ability to contribute to the maximum in the roles they’re in (like a formula 1 car receiving fortnightly tuning). However, in at least a third of cases I’m asked to consider, a director or manager want’s me to ‘fix’ a person who reports in to them to ‘make them see’ or ‘get them to understand’.

 

In these situations I have to explain (sometimes to the point of losing the contract) that if I ‘fix’ this person without having the ability to coach their director to increase his/her skills and awareness it’s a poor time and money investment for the company. It’s like teaching a child to speak clearly then leaving them in a home where the parents mumble - it just increases the child’s frustration that the culture they live in is not evolved enough for them to fully thrive.

 

The issues for companies with potential conflicts between employees are:

  • how to justify the investment of time, money and productivity once a conflict situation gains its full momentum (employees, leaders, human resources, knock on effect to team morale)
  • how to skill up staff to ask for help before a situation escalates
  • how to train managers to know the difference between normal creative friction and ongoing, stress-enhancing, detrimental behaviour
  • how to continue to invest in the development of teams and leaders regardless of there being issues and conflict situations (being proactive in keeping professinalism and awareness high)

I’ll lighten it up in the next post and look at the top 5 ways to succeed in managing conflict at work!

 

 

Jennifer Broadley is one of the UK's leading executive coaches. She works with corporate leaders, business directors and successful entrepreneurs. She specialises in continued high performance, intuitive leadership and personal & professional accomplishment. Jennifer is passionate about the ongoing self improvement of the world's future business leaders – the way-showers for our precious next generation. She coaches, speaks and writes on 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®. Her book of the same name is available on www.Amazon.co.uk . To talk further you can call, email or message Jennifer from www.JenniferBroadley.com .

An executive coach in London: mine your diamonds

There’s something very privileged about the job of an executive coach – especially an executive coach in London. Those coaches that are sought after by executive from around the world all have one thing in common … word’s got round that they get results. When the time comes a leader doesn’t care if an executive coach went to the best coaching school, is accountable to a professional federation, or if they themselves earned multiple-7-figures in banking, media or science before changing careers.

 

A leader knows this: ‘you got results for my friend/colleague/associate – and I’d like you to do the same for me please’.  Simple. It’s an executive coach’s skill-set that counts. Can that coach make a speedy difference in your personal and professional life, with your mindset, your communication skills, your clarity about what you want in your future, your overall physical, mental and emotional success? Yes? So, hire them … now.

 

I helped a friend get her CV up to date recently – it was impressive. My only comment was ‘take your school results off your resume; experience has superseded the need for them’. It’s the same with an experienced executive coach – 15 year and 1000s of clients down the line, they have an intuition, a knowing and a set of unique tools that are so deeply entrenched in them getting results with their talented leaders in diverse industries they probably can’t even tell you what some of those tools are … they just ‘be’ coaching all day every day.

 

I see this in my leadership clients sometimes too. They can be so busy proving to others that they’re worthy – reading the latest leadership books, putting their teams/organisations up for awards, getting the next letters after their names (MA, PHD, MBA) – that they’ve missed the uncut diamonds just waiting to be mined inside of themselves. This is no touchy-feely kind of treasure but a profound, extraordinary sense of what a leader (CEO, MD, board member, senior director – whoever) can contribute to this time and space that no one else on the planet can.

 

When you actively mine those diamonds, no approval or qualifications will have prepared you for what the future can look like. You’ll live on purpose. You’ll progress though life living out of that purpose, speaking from that place, contributing from it and inspiring others. You’ll respect that although your paths are crossing with tens or hundreds of others at this very moment, their destiny isn’t yours and and some point they’ll likely uncover their own diamonds and move on into their own inspired space.

 

Why am I highlighting London as an executive coaching hub amongst every other international city? Mainly I suppose because that’s where I personally have had the honour of working with the most diverse range of clients I could imagine: young, old, men, women, limited (until I worked with them!), empowered, upscalers, downsizers, solopreneurs, leaders of startups and generations-old corporations.  Each extraordinary. Every one of them with diamonds now well-and-truly mined, designed, polished and sparkling with light.

 

 

Jennifer Broadley is one of the UK's leading executive coaches. She works with corporate leaders, business directors and successful entrepreneurs. She specialises in continued high performance, intuitive leadership and personal & professional accomplishment. Jennifer is passionate about the ongoing self improvement of the world's future business leaders – the way-showers for our precious next generation. She coaches, speaks and writes on 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®. Her book of the same name is available on www.Amazon.co.uk . To talk further you can call, email or message Jennifer from www.JenniferBroadley.com .

Leadership Success: clarity, passion, teamwork

The great thing about coaching leadership success is that it naturally has a positive ripple effect throughout the rest of the company. Directors get clear, they speak with expectation and inspiration to their managers and in turn those managers create a culture of unlimited possibilities within their teams –  a win for productivity, for the organisation and for its customers.

 

So what does it take for a business leader to motivate a team to operate at peak potential? Clarity, enthusiasm and motivation all contribute – that takes body, mind and heart know-how. The ‘x-factor’ for limitless results is always the same …  add soul to the equation. Here’s some of what I know about that:

 

Energy organises around what is most articulate in your system. When your predominant resonance is one of expectation, you attract excitement, when it’s one of progress you attract action, one of confusion you attract mixed messages, one of conflict you attract aggression, one of expansion you attract opportunities.

 

It’s important to equip yourself with a colourful vocabulary around the subject you’re passionate about. Practice speaking out how great it’s going to be to achieve that promotion, build that team, launch that new product line, expand into that region or sell that millionth unit.  Everything is achieved with less effort when your predominant vibration is one of already having achieved the result you’re dreaming of.

 

As a leader:

  • Everything you do influences others: your words, your attitude, your humour, your discipline.
  • Be clear (and if you’re not, get a coach and get clear) – because directors and managers will model your message. There’s got to be a sense that a team know how their contribution fits into the big picture, and how that’s valued overall by the organisation. Clarity will cut through timelines like nothing else in business.
  • Get to know the human capital available to you.  You may have  an Einstein on your payroll; she may know how to deliver a process or a product that’s unlike anything anyone’s see before. If that’s the case you really want to have access to that genius.

Coaching leadership success is all about placing the success of a leader’s results squarely in the realms of their own responsibility. The more you invest in yourself the more limitless the possibilities you create for yourself and for those around you – personally and professionally!

 

Jennifer Broadley is one of the UK's leading executive coaches. She works with corporate leaders, business directors and successful entrepreneurs. She specialises in continued high performance, intuitive leadership and personal & professional accomplishment. Jennifer is passionate about the ongoing self improvement of the world's future business leaders – the way-showers for our precious next generation. She coaches, speaks and writes on 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®. Her book of the same name is available on www.Amazon.co.uk . To talk further you can call, email or message Jennifer from www.JenniferBroadley.com .

Executives of the new world …

As a corporate coach, and particularly as an executive coach in London and other commercial-centric cities, I’m beginning to ask myself whether business change isn’t occurring faster that ever before in history.

 

What makes a leadership team, and by extension an entire company, equipped to manage such significant changes as:

  • outsourcing production to global hubs
  • launching new brands when the traditional ones are clearly in decline
  • embracing new business models without damaging present essential revenue streams
  • attracting talented staff who’ll contribute immensely whilst putting home-life first. They have no interested in working overtime or ‘mad’ hours
  • letting go of a company culture that thrived through the past 2 decades but will fold in the next one unless flexibility, meritocracy, transparency and diversity are fully embraced
  • keeping ahead of technological advancements, shifts in product delivery and customer sophistication

There are incredible opportunities opening up for small & medium businesses and for the corporate giants too. These are the strategies I’m noticing the front runners utilising:

  • Active investment in the personal & professional development of a company’s c-levels, directors and executives – it keeps them on form and permanently innovating – and when they’re convinced, they’re convincing
  • Do less – that is, get supremely focussed on the specific activities required to get results. Everything else is a non-priority
  • Keep alert: just because a product or promotion worked last year, there are no guarantees that the same results can be achieved by repeating it 12  months later. Re-review product, market and process, and tweak where necessary
  • Create a clear succession plan for top talent, and purposefully open doors for high performers to progress. Retaining great employees takes know how and active expectation management
  • Buy knowledge & expertise where they’re not already present within the organisation. An external provider is often exposed to a spectrum of examples that can’t be seen from within a culture
There will come a point where the speed of change reaches maximum velocity. At that time the heart of what individuals and tribes want will return to basics: simplicity, community & meaning. There are glimpses of those values already in expansion across the globe. We’re not there yet though, so to all you leaders sensing the stretch – breathe deeply, get resourced and enjoy the ride.

 

 

Jennifer Broadley is one of the UK's leading executive coaches. She works with corporate leaders, business directors and successful entrepreneurs. She specialises in continued high performance, intuitive leadership and personal & professional accomplishment. Jennifer is passionate about the ongoing self improvement of the world's future business leaders – the way-showers for our precious next generation. She coaches, speaks and writes on 'The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom'®. Her book of the same name is available on www.Amazon.co.uk . To talk further you can call, email or message Jennifer from www.JenniferBroadley.com .