Last month I wrote about the importance of identifying and aligning with your purpose at work. But, managing your own desires is just the beginning. Particularly as leaders, so much of our work experience is impacted by others—i.e., the superiors that guide our decision-making and the subordinates we support on a daily basis. And, while every work environment is bound to have a mix of personalities that don’t always mesh, an unresolved conflict can greatly reduce your quality of life at work.
If you’re in a leadership position, you’ve undoubtedly been there. A conflict arises, perhaps stemming from inherent personality clashes, competition over a project or position, an acute miscommunication, or resentments and jealousy about perceived power, recognition, and/or compensation.
The conflict seeps into every pore of your work experience and no matter how hard you try to focus, you’re distracted. Your productivity is down. You’re emotionally drained, exhausted, and on-edge. Seeing that person everyday has you faced with awkward or even tense encounters. Your team can feel it. Communication and creative flow are stifled. Constant questions about how to approach the situation consume your day-to-day. Do you sweep it under the rug hoping it’ll blow over and work itself out, or do you confront it and risk escalation?
The first thing to note about conflicts in the workplace is that they come with the territory of being a leader. Whether you’re managing one personally or between team members, it’s all part of the inherent nature of working in a group and being in a leadership role. And, while you can develop skills and structures to prevent conflict, avoiding it entirely is unrealistic. The good news is, when handled effectively, great growth and insights can come from them.
To get past conflicts, you need strategies for:
- keeping up your own morale (and that of your team) in the face of them
- not getting sucked into unnecessary drama—be it your own or that of the other(s)
- eliciting the support of your boss or others who could influence the situation—which includes knowing who that might be and what their support would look like
- communicating information and a course of action in a timely, accurate, professional, and positive manner
- moving forward amicably and in a way that rallies everyone toward a common goal
At the end of the day, everyone wants to be heard and understood. Creating the space for issues to get resolved effectively is the cornerstone of a successful workplace. For you, that means being truly open to listening and ensuring that, even if you ultimately disagree, the other side feels heard. It also requires that you have clear boundaries, and you know why they matter and how to uphold them. Without that, you run the risk of losing valuable talent and deepening the negative impacts on you, your team, and your organization. With it, you, your colleagues, and your team members will experience a renewed sense of purpose, camaraderie, and momentum.
I have helped leaders in some of the world’s top organizations resolve conflicts with their peers and among their direct reports, to achieve just that. If you’re interested in becoming better equipped to tackle your next conflict with grace and power, book a call with me now.