You’re a Sales Director accountable for the sales function. You notice team morale is low, and productivity is far from reaching your targets. There is friction between your function and the development team that is ongoing. The conflict is impacting team productivity and managing the conflict is becoming tedious. Sounds familiar?
Managing Conflict – Trust and Confidence
Conflicts often exist at the workplace. This usually affects productivity. Conflicts within the workplace arise for several reasons. They can occur at personal levels (individuals), teams, departmental or functional levels. At its worst, conflict in can create very toxic working environments and impact creativity. It can affect moods at work, morale, attitudes and wellbeing.
A happy team is a productive team. It is important for you and other leaders in your organisation to address conflicts as they arise and not to leave them to fester. It is equally important for you not to create or add to the conflicts.
If individuals and teams have trust and confidence in your leadership, they will approach you about all issues in the workplace. They need to have trust and confidence in your ability to deal with conflict resolution. And have faith that you will swiftly and adequately resolve them. The perceptions around your ability to resolve conflicts are often based on f fairness and openness. Other factors include honesty, inclusivity and unbiased approaches to handling disputes and resolution.
Conflicts between cross-functional teams will mean that these teams will not be working together in the best interest of the organisation. You will lose out on having efficient teams due to duplicating efforts and output. If one team or function is not aware of what the other is doing, they may be wasting time by reinventing the wheel. Once teams start playing games with each other due to conflicts, they slow each other down.
For example, the development team will not let the sales team know about a potential challenge they are facing which will affect the completion date of a project. The sales team therefore will not be able to manage the expectations of their customers. This may lead to unhappy customers and potential loss in revenue. Customer relationships may need rebuilding. Resulting in the sales team spending more time and effort rebuilding them. Leaders may be drawn into apologising to customers. And resolving the issue of communication breakdown between teams.
As a leader, you can’t have biased views. Your approach to dealing with individuals, teams and peers needs to be fair, firm and consistent.
The emotional part of conflicts can take its toll on the people involved in the conflicts. As well as individuals involved in resolving the matter, it can affect their families and loved ones and everyone working alongside them. It can also affect other stakeholder groups such as clients, customers and shareholders.
Conflicts can spread very quickly if left unresolved. A small misunderstanding can turn into a very unpleasant situation. Conflicts can lead to you losing the key and talented members of your teams. Issues not satisfactorily resolved may result in paying off individuals through settlement agreements.
You can manage conflicts internally or through mediation. Mediation is often an effective way to help move things on if all efforts to resolve things internally have failed. Executive coaching will equip your leaders to identify and deal with conflicts in your organisation. It will also help your leaders to know when they have done all they can (their limits) and need to involve others.
Managing Conflict – Privacy and Confidentiality
You must respect the privacy and confidentiality of the people involved in managing conflicts. You may come across some sensitive information that needs handling with care. You must also give considerations to GDPR and Data Protection regulations. Breach of privacy and confidentiality may mean that the trust and confidence in you and the process may become broken. You may well blow any chance you have to manage the conflict.
Conflicts can take the focus away from important workplace business. Resulting in affecting productivity and quality of output. It can affect profitability. Conflicts will arise. However, what is important is how you manage them. Through executive coaching, you can learn to manage conflicts fairly, firmly and consistently. Other benefits of executive coaching are in this blog post.