Conflict Avoidance in the Workplace

With the exception of a few people, the vast majority of leaders and executives dislike conflict in their teams and within their workplace.  A conflict can create a lot of tension and high emotions which have the potential of creating problems.
As leaders and executives, we generally want to avoid unnecessary drama within our teams.  However, that avoidance can create some unintended consequences.
A reality of a successful business or organization is to face challenges and find successful solutions to those challenges.  If we avoid healthy challenges, it can keep us from being successful.
Here are some ways we avoid conflict in unhealthy ways:

We don’t address lingering problems.

For all kinds of reasons, many of us avoid dealing with the lingering problems in our organization.  It could be that we don’t want to create trouble for ourselves, or that we don’t see the problems as being bad enough to deal with them.  The real situation, however, is this: we are actually dealing with the problem by not addressing it, which is an intentional decision.
If we want for our organizations to be healthy, we need to recognize and manage those matters which keep us from rising to a more successful level.  This means that we need to look at every matter which keeps us from being successful and deal with it.

We empower contentious team members.

Any healthy organization is going to deal with some disagreement.  That’s acceptable.  What isn’t acceptable is allowing someone to create problems within the team to the point that the team cannot gain successful results.  Argumentative team members produce distractions and hard feelings.  These situations are avoidable.
Team members can disagree without being disagreeable.  Setting rules and boundaries are necessary for teams to function well.

We mistake behavior issues as character issues.

When you were in school, your teacher taught you the difference between a “being” verb and an “action” verb.  A “being” verb describes the character of a person or object, while an “action” verb describes what that person or object is doing.  Many times we see the actions of a team member as a matter of character.  It is more of a matter of what the person is doing.  Seeing we don’t want someone to feel bad, we avoid correcting the problem.
If we keep the perspective that we are dealing with a correction of what to do, while affirming the person at the same time, we can build confidence and gain better results in that team member.
Here are some ways we can deal with conflict in a healthy way:

Commit to helping people to be better in all aspects.

The best leaders create environments for their team members to achieve great results.  They show their teams how to improve performance, which requires accountability and fair analyses.  Evaluations should be completed daily.  Let your team members know how they are performing on a daily basis and encourage them to  rise to new levels.

Monitor the key metrics so that we can see conflict areas.

If you don’t know what you want to achieve, you will be confused on what results to be targeted.  If you have clearly defined goals and objectives, you will find that objective, measureable results will tell you and your team what is actually happening.  Be committed to developing and monitoring excellent metrics and you will find that your team will be more successful.

Make a point to recognize success through improvement.

No one wants to be recognized for the mistakes and bad decisions without a healthy balance of positive results and progressive change.  Be sure to praise your teammates when it is appropriate.  Praise them in public and recognize them for great results in front of your peers.
Above all, always remember that creating and growing trust is the most critical area for a team’s success.  When a team trusts its members, the results can be remarkably positive and successful.

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