How to resolve employee conflict
Monday, January 05, 2015
In entrepreneurial companies, employees wear many hats. Consequently, there is frequent communication and everyone feels well-informed.
As organizations grow, it becomes necessary to focus the efforts of employees in specific functional areas. While this focus results in greater discipline, an unintended consequence is often a breakdown in communication.
With communication breakdown and functional specialization, employees in different departments can end up with diametrically opposite perspectives. This misalignment in employee perspectives results in suboptimal customer experiences. Regardless of position, every employee can take important steps to rectify this situation.
1. Open your horizons
Functional specialists tend to think and talk the same way. Hearing one's opinions articulated by others reinforces one's perspective and leads to a hardening of opinions and practices.
To counter this, expose yourself to people from a wide range of functional disciplines. Listen carefully to their perspectives and allow them to challenge your assumptions.
2. Spend face time with other departments
Look for opportunities to spend face time with the people you interact with from different departments. Salespeople understand the importance of face time with customers. It accelerates trust. It is just as important to accelerate trust with employees as it is with customers.
Don't be the person that people only hear from when you want something. Make some trust deposits long before you need work done.
3. Think about the big picture
Align personal interests around a larger, common goal. Most people want to do good work, and a lot of conflict is born out of the fact that two people want to do what's best, but they can't agree on what that is.
Before making your request, ensure you have agreement on the importance of a larger, common goal. Then, gain clarity on how both parties' personal interests align with that larger, common goal. This level of alignment will enable both parties to be creative when it comes to resolving apparent conflicts.
Being part of a growing company is exciting. However, with growth comes change and the loss of doing things the way you may have always done them in the past.
As these changes occur, conflict is inevitable, but it is not unresolvable. Realizing that it is part of the growth process. Having a strategy to deal with it as it emerges, will enable you and your company to thrive in a time of unprecedented change.
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