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.

5 STAGES OF CULTURE CHANGE, The Beginning of Coaching for Safe Behaviors

“We can change culture, If we change behavior. If we change behavior, we eliminate incidents”

Denis Baker

We are all in a position of power—a manager, a team leader, or someone who has the ear of a leader—we can effect change.

Culture has a significant impact on everything from safety to employee engagement to productivity. In addition, it gives people a sense of belonging and self-worth in their workplace.

However, the stark reality is that organizational culture is a complex web of relationships, and as those relationships change and shift over time, everyone must embrace change. This will serve to maintain any positive change that has been affected and continue along a productive path. The ability to eliminate unsafe behaviors is determined by the quality of relationships we have with people. Regardless of your position or title, you are in the place of growing, developing, and improving people. And those people are relying on you to train, communicate, and coach them to perform their jobs or tasks safely. 

Coaching is a skill that every safety professional and leader must master. The implementation and integration of behavioral change is a crucial aspect of achieving a sustainable safety culture. 

Coaching facilitates a culture transition through the stages of behavior change to achieve safe habits. Effective behavioral change requires that we identify what we are changing, why we are changing it, how we change it, and then create a strong plan of action to maintain effectiveness.  

In this blog series, I will focus on creating a culture change through individual behaviors.

WHAT IS BEHAVIOR CHANGE?

Before we get too deep into how to change a culture, let me identify what behavior change is. Behavior change refers to the “transformation or modification of human behavior,” with a new or altered safe behavior being the end-point.

“To change a habit, make a conscious decision, then act out the new behavior.”

Maxwell Maltz

I have identified five stages to achieve culture change. However, the process of implementing and maintaining change seems to be a spiral rather than a straight line. I have found that most people regress in the beginning stages, so constant and consistent coaching is required.

5 STAGES OF CULTURE CHANGE

Throughout my career, I focused my expertise on changing culture and ultimately changing behaviors. As a safety professional, when you first start at a company or facility, you must become familiar with the current culture, identify areas of concern, and identify a strategic improvement plan. Safety professionals play an integral role in a company or facility culture change. Therefore, you must be accurate in your evaluation and plan.

To get there, I have outlined the Five (5) stages to change a culture. While every company and facility is different, the culture change process is still the same. By following these five stages, you will help to ensure an actual culture change.

Setting the foundation

Before behaviors can be changed, organizations must identify the areas of focus needed to understand why the current behaviors exist. These areas typically include; missing policies or procedures, lack of training, leadership failure, et. Still, they may also be in the pre-contemplation, action, or maintenance stages. The current safety position is generally determined through active observations, listening, curiosity, and asking open questions. This knowledge will contribute to developing the organization’s safety strategic plan and creating the required coaching journey.

Contemplation

In the contemplation stage, the organization is “aware of existing safety issues and is creating a plan to address the issues, but has not committed to taking action. This stage can last for a long time as organizations struggle with dysfunctional employee behavior and the amount of effort, energy, and cost to create, change and implement programs and training. In the contemplation stage, the mindset of “We may” change or implement generally creates a delay in the path forward. 

Preparation

This stage combines intention and behavioral criteria. For example, an organization in the preparation stage may have reduced some unsafe behaviors but have not reached the criteria for sustainable, effective behaviors. They can be considered to be in the mindset of “We will.” Their intention and motivation are firm, and they plan to implement their change plan within a short period. 

Within this stage, the leadership will brainstorm possible approaches and solutions. Successful behavioral change requires identifying the right approach and protecting our upcoming changes from distractions and conflicting goals. Anticipation, planning, and engagement are crucial for maintaining safe behaviors. 

Action

Now the organization is committed to implementing programs and conducting training to begin the behavior change process. Organizations in the action stage are considered to be in the “I am” mindset and consistently implement their new behavior expectations. When clients are in this stage, they are likely to achieve fewer incidents and experience more robust safe behaviors. In addition, the Behavior Coaching Process (discussed in a later blog post) will result in even fewer incidents and help ensure consistent safe behaviors. 

However, once the action stage is entirely in progress, there becomes a risk of complacency and a focus on production, which causes employees to fall back into exhibiting unsafe behaviors. Keep in mind that the initiation of programs and training will be efficient, but the failure to be persistent in the expectations can create a culture backflow. 

Maintenance

In this stage, we want to continuously improve to prevent relapse, consolidate the gains attained during the past efforts, and increase safe behaviors. In my experience, this stage typically comes into play around 18-24 months. Cultures in the maintenance stage are considered in the “I still am” mindset and are considered to be in this stage when the new behavior becomes a habit. While in the maintenance stage, leadership and safety professionals are generally confident they can maintain the improved behaviors. However, they must be diligent in maintaining this change. There will be challenges and concerns. However, if the leadership has built an engaging culture, it doesn’t generally present a significant risk and can often get back on track and even create more robust, safe behaviors.

CONCLUSION

Many of us have behaviors we would like to change. Understanding the stages of change and applying each one effectively and timeously will support a meaningful, sustainable, and, ultimately, empowering behavior change, resulting in improved safe behavior and fewer employees getting injured. My next blog will focus on effectively coaching leadership and employees to change behaviors through their mindset.

Remember, our actions determine the result!

“A change in bad habits leads to a change in life.”

Jenny Craig

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.

9 SAFETY CULTURE QUESTIONS WE NEVER THOUGHT WE WOULD HAVE TO ASK OURSELVES

When considering the last few months, if we had been given a glimpse of this crazy year ahead of time, we would have thought the world had gone mad.

I feel It probably has.

There has been a significant change in the safety professional’s approach to influencing the workforce and leadership in safety. For some, organizations have a healthy and sustainable culture indicating that the only need is to reinforce the culture and look for continuous improvement. But for most safety professionals, organizations either; don’t have a safety culture in place yet, or the current culture is not strong enough to sustain a consistent, safe workforce. 

While we can’t approach safety the same we have done in the past, we have to ensure our current safety culture is continuously building up strong through our leadership and employees. 

I recently thought about this and came up with 9 questions I believe we need to focus on to ensure the workforce’s safety in this current situation. 

  1. Do your employees feel comfortable with COVID-19 protocols and procedures put in place?
  2. Is safety still a core value, or is the entire focus on revenue?
  3. Are your employees still stopping work when they feel unsafe? 
  4. Do your employees still feel comfortable approaching their colleagues if there is an unsafe condition or situation? 
  5. Are the employees exhibiting safe behaviors?
  6. Are people managers still engaged in the safety process?  
  7. Is safety integrated into every conversation? 
  8. Are your employees under pressure and more inclined to take shortcuts? 
  9. Is the leadership team thinking differently? 

I encourage you to ask yourself these questions first. Ask your team, the workforce, and leadership what their thoughts are and develop an immediate implementation plan to address the shortcoming or redesign processes. The answers to these questions will determine the plan as we advance. 

Your ability to ask questions will hlp determine the path forward.

“The ability to ask questions is the greatest resource in learning the truth.”

Carl Jung