I just got back from a completely “unplugged” vacation! Two things about that:
1. If you’ve never done it (I mean a complete and total break from cell phones, laptops, i-whatevers, etc.,) you should take some time to do this. It helps if you go somewhere where all of your “stuff” won’t work well but if a tropical island isn’t in your plans, find a way to hide your electronics. Take a self-imposed exile of some kind!
2. I realized that by stepping back and allowing for some time to clear my head and regroup, I began to think more clearly and was able to refocus on things that will be important for 2014 and beyond.
One of the things that was reinforced is my long-held belief that if conflict is approached properly and handled methodically, the outcome can be one of collaboration instead of more conflict.
Conflict, in manageable doses, is actually healthy for an organization. But too often, we let the conflicts grow and instead of being productive, our teams instead become resentful, angry, and uninterested.
Here are some steps you can take to turn conflict into collaboration:
1. Acknowledge the conflict. Don’t ignore it. It won’t go away on its own. Bring the conflict to your team and start a discussion.
2. Put everything on the table. Encourage your team to “let it all out!” This isn’t the time to be timid or shy about expressing what your concerns are. This step allows for team members to provide insight and suggestions. ALL suggestions are welcome. You’ll start to whittle them down later.
3. Pros and Cons – List the pros and cons of each action step or suggestion.
4. Discuss - You’ll start trimming down the list based on what’s realistic and feasible. Obviously, the pros and cons list will help you with this.
5. Deliberate – Now give everyone time to deliberate what has already been discussed – and this has to be done individually. This is crucial! The team members must be allowed to step back from the collective in order to consider the potential solutions to the conflict. This is where there is definitely an “I” in “team.”
6. Discuss (again) - After an appropriate amount of “me time” has passed, bring the group back together and have another discussion. Ask if there are any new suggestions or insights. Find out what everyone honestly thinks about what has been discussed.
7. DECIDE – Leaders make decisions. They don’t keep important matters in an eternal “review” process. The same is true about overcoming conflict. You’ve already heard suggestions, deliberated the pros and cons, and come up with potential action steps to take to move the project forward. Now, it’s important that you DECIDE how to move forward. And then, you move forward by writing an action plan and assigning responsibilities.
This process will work at your credit unions! It will work at any organization as long as the players are committed to being open-minded, flexible, and fair.
Perhaps I should send a link to this blog post to our elected representatives in D.C.?
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!