CONFLICT WITH TEAM MEMBERS, How to Relieve It

Team Members will experience conflicts. A member of your team or another colleague whom you think is in the trenches with you can suddenly become a foe. In an instant, teams meant to work together to achieve the goals and objectives can end up locked in conflict. I don’t think any of us wake up in the morning hoping to deal with conflict………..but it will show up. Conflicts rip teams apart, destroy morale, and will result in poor performance.

So, what do we need to do to relieve the conflict and become a stronger high-performance team? 

  1. Positions – Many team members focus on their job title to dictate the direction. This is very typical for those promoted to a high level for the first time, or maybe it is a person who has occupied the job for many years and feels they know how to strategize for success. To relieve this conflict, the team members must be open to allowing each member to share their thoughts and ideas, and the team provides professional feedback. When each person is talking, other team members must focus on listening to what is being said and understanding where they are coming from and why they are posing the information. 
  2. Mistrust or uneven communication – Many teams have members who create an atmosphere of mistrust because they want the results to follow them. As a part of multiple teams, many members don’t communicate or consider the entire company but focus on what will work best for their assigned responsibilities. This creates a very contentious atmosphere and results in extreme conflict. For example, suppose someone dominates the conversation while others sit silent or appear to have dropped out. In that case, a team member might need to stop the process and ask each person what they need to accommodate their assigned responsibilities. This will reduce the frustration and eliminate the conflict.
  3. Personality clashes – When you don’t get along with a team member, it can make both of you very frustrated. And though you might wish for a personality transplant for your annoying coworker, that’s probably not going to happen. Personality clashes are the most reported problem in the workplace. Too often, these conflicts go unresolved because people concentrate on their personalities rather than focusing on the issues. When the clashes escalate, they create a TOXIC work environment. People influence each other’s behavior. We can’t control or change another person’s personality, but we certainly can control our own emotions and reactions. The clashes are between you and the other person, no one else. Consider what Lou Holtz’s humorous perspective is, “Don’t tell your problems to people! 80% don’t care, and the other 20% are glad you have them.”
  4. Power issues and personal agendas – I am KING and WILL DO what I WANT TO DO! A conflict that involves power issues or solid personal agendas must be deleted. The reality is that some members are not a right fit for the team, and leaders need to remove or offer them another role. This doesn’t happen often, but occasionally it will. The good news is the team usually jumps forward once it changes. 

“When your agenda becomes more important than the team’s desired outcome, team performance suffers, and each member will fail.” 

DENIS BAKER

Conflict can improve team performance when it is handled properly. The challenge for Team members is knowing how and when to intervene.

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

When we have our leaky roof, we’re just hoping to restore things to normal. However, when we repair Team relationships, there is always an opportunity to build more trust and increase future performance.

Denis is an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior, Consultant. Denis is currently the Director of Health & Safety for Ferguson Enterprises. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique, passionate, and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. 

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture training, DISC Behavioral consulting, or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE

Your mouth is poison; your mouth is wine.

–The Civil Wars

WHAT WE SAY MATTERS

The words we use can create sparks that can burn down the house. The lyrics from the musical group, “Talking Heads, in their song, “Burning Down the House”, sets the stage for this blog.

My house! Is out of the ordinary

 That’s right! Don’t wanna hurt nobody

 Some things sure can sweep me off my feet

 Burning down the house

Let me break down these lyrics based on our words; 

“My house! Is out of the ordinary.” The atmosphere we create is based on the words we choose.

“We don’t want to hurt anybody.”, Our words can encourage, persuade, defend, or manipulate. They can offend, ruin our relationships, position, or the respect we have with those we lead or influence.

“Some things sure can sweep me off my feet.” Choosing the rights words will determine your effectiveness in influencing  

“Burning down the house.” Chose the wrong words, and watch everything you created, the culture, the relationship, and the influence you had, burn!

OUR WORDS ARE POWERFUL

In the third chapter of the book of James, he says this:

“Consider when a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire.” Verse 7: “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison.” (NIV)

James wasn’t saying that speaking or words are evil. The fact is, our words are incredibly crucial for influencing others. Our words are essential for building and strengthening those we interact with, so words are important. But he does give us the warning that words can do a lot of damage.

Sometimes one inappropriate word can wreck a career. It can destroy a reputation. When it’s in bad taste, when it’s unfair or unjust, it can burn down a life. It can burn down a whole culture!

It doesn’t matter that you “didn’t mean it” or that you were “just joking.” Sometimes, words just hurt. And we who use them have a responsibility to do so with an awareness of the impact they may have.

In light of the COVID crisis and the racist issues, I spent time re-evaluating the way I think and the approach I take with others. I realize our words determine our beliefs, and that results in the atmosphere we create.

Here are some things to consider about our words:

  1. THINK. Think about what you want to say before you say it. Ask the question, “What if.”. Careless words create frustration.
  2. NOT POLITICAL. Words are not political. They are about respect
  3. CONTEXT. There are occasions in which certain words are not offensive. However, you must ensure you are clear in your position and communicate the FULL meaning of your thoughts.
  4. CORRECT or INCORRECT. You should know what words you are speaking; choose wisely before opening your mouth or writing that angry email or text.
  5. HABITS MATTER. If I speak differently at home than at work, my words will come out, regardless of where I am and who is accompanying me. They will come out unintentionally.
  6. LAZY WORDS. We will all offend someone at some time. Some more than others. Why? Because we are lazy to think before we speak and we are lazy to change the way we think.

So What Now What

Words are invisible sparks. They build up in our brains, and every time we speak a wrong word, they shoot from our tongue. If we continue to speak the wrong things, we will fuel the fire and “BURN DOWN THE HOUSE!”

Just do this…………………THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK.

HOW TO REMAIN ENCOURAGED DURING DIFFICULT TIMES

You remember the saying, “Let the good times roll.” Well, sometimes the good times turn bad. We enjoy the benefit of things going well and t’s easy to encourage others when they’re down. But sooner or later, we will enter into difficult times. It’s inevitable. As I said in my last post, “How to Remain Motivated and Influential During Difficult Times,” I stated that, “no one will escape difficulty in life.” The reality is, there will be times of discouragement. But discouragement doesn’t mean we have to fall apart or quit.

I look to the scriptures for my daily encouragement. When difficult times hit, I find it even more important to study and mediatiate. Here are five bible verses to encourage you during difficult times.

Psalms46_3_1to7

nahum1_7

Psalms62_6

2Timothy1_7

Isaiah41_10

Can’t We All Just Get Along? 6 Principles to Solving Conflict

Look conflict is noEmotional discussiont fun, it’s not pleasant and quiet frankly it  becomes frustrating and irritating.  However, conflict is inevitable and it’s actually crucial for success. Without conflict, one continues on a path of mediocre performance.  However, if  we address the conflict, the clash of ideas, positions and personal preferences can become fuel for change, innovative thinking and thought provoking new ideas. Unresolved conflict will destroy personal relationships and create a division within an organization or team.

John C. Maxwell said; “People naturally see themselves in the light of their intentions, but they measure others according to their actions.”  Man that was me.  I use to avoid conflict all cost. Well that’s probably not entirely true.  I think it would be more accurate to say, that I use to instigate conflict when I could.

Most leaders don’t respond well to conflict.  In fact, I believe most leaders will avoid it and choose the easiest, rather than the most effective way to handle it.  In John Maxwell’s Guide to Managing Conflict”, he listed six typical responses to conflict.  I found these to be right on, so I want to share them with you.  How many have you used?  Personally, I used all six at some time in my personal life or professional career.

  1. Win at all costs.  It’s like a shootout at the OK Corral. It’s quick, brutal, and destructive.
  2. Pretend it doesn’t exist.  Even if they hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil, evil will still exist. It will simply grow unsupervised.
  3. Whine about it. Playing the victim doesn’t cure conflict. It just irritates everybody on the team.
  4. Keep score. People who keep a record of wrongs can never start fresh. And nobody can ever truly get “even.”
  5. Pull rank. Using position never really solves conflict. It merely postpones it.
  6. White flag it. Quitting is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

But, how can we address conflict and avoid these failed responses?  First, I think you have to truly care about the conflict, reason for the conflict and the person you have a conflict with. Second, we need to fully understand and comprehend the facts surrounding the reason for conflict.  Once we show we care, indicate we fully understand the facts surrounding the situation and we are prepared to approach a resolution from a humble perspective, then I believe you can effective solve the conflict.  How?  By fully implementing and following the 6 principles listed below.  Again, these were taken from John’s “Guide to Managing Conflict”;

  1. Confront a person only if you care about that person. It is more productive to go into a confrontation keeping the other person’s interests in mind.
  2. Meet together as soon as possible. When conflict arises, human nature is inclined to avoid it and procrastinate regarding resolution. The reality is, that by putting off confrontation, the situation can only deteriorate further.  Get together face-to-face.
  3. First seek understanding, not necessarily agreement. The person who gives an opinion before he or she understands is human, but the person who gives a judgment before he or she understands is a fool. The truth is, you cannot reach understanding if your focus is on yourself.
  4. Outline the issue. Be positive, describe your perceptions, state how this situation makes you feel, and explain why this is important to you. Engaging in this process without emotional heat or bitterness is essential.
  5. Encourage a response. Try to build a dialogue – be sure to let the other person talk while you actively listen. Maxwell talks about the following observations when confronting people:
    • 50% of the time people don’t realize there’s a problem.
    • 30% of the time they realize there’s a problem, but they don’t know how to solve it.
    • 20% of the time they recognize the problem and don’t want to fix it.
    • A solution can be had 80% of the time merely by engaging and seeking a response.
  6. Agree to an action plan. Be sure the plan clearly identifies the issue and spells out concrete steps that will be taken. The action plan should include a commitment by both parties to put the issue to rest once resolved.

Learn to identify the potential conflict and make adjustments in your approach, thinking Fight, two fists hitting each other over dramatic skyand desires.  However, if conflict occurs, then it must be addressed.  Following the 6 principles above will help ensure the conflict is fully, effectively and completely resolved.  Dealing with conflict won’t hurt relationships, in fact it strengthens the bond between people and teams.

John C. Maxwell said, “Successful confrontation usually changes both people, not just one.”  I agree.  Every conflict that I have effectively solved has made me a better leader.  I encourage you to resolve conflict quickly.  Don’t let it build!