Monday, November 14, 2016

The One Word That Can Resolve Workplace Conflict


Anyone who has a toddler probably hears this no less than 1,400 times per day. (And don't tell me you don't resort to "Because I said so!" because everyone reaches that point on the 475th "why?")

While children are great at asking the question, they often grow out of asking "why" all the time.

Too bad.

We as adults could benefit greatly if we'd just add a few more "whys" to our days.

A recent lecture by Stanford Graduate School of Business organizational behavior professor Lindred Greer looked at problems with top-down team structures. Some of those problems included less participation, influence from the wrong people and not enough conflict.

Not enough conflict? Who wants conflict at work?

Well, it seems that conflict is good for us, she says. We need to be challenged by others who think differently than us.

The solution? More people asking "why."

Leaders need to ask "why" of team members to get them to reach deeper into their thinking. Colleagues need to ask "why" of one another so that they get to the heart of the matter and find out why people really think as they do.

Everyone needs to have a voice at work. In order to come up with more innovative ideas and better solutions, teams need to be more collaborative with other departments. That means IT needs to work with marketing. Sales needs to work with distribution. Customer service needs to work with operations.

There will be some conflict, for sure. Everyone is going to be coming from a different perspective and experience, but as long as they keeping asking "why" -- and listening carefully to the responses -- that conflict will become a positive driver of better bottom-line results and positive workplace relationships.

1 comment:

Elena said...

Like you said, although it can be surprising, a constructive work conflict can be a good incentive for a team to continuously improve and become more productive. When your opinion is challenged, you have to come up with strong arguments to convince the other party. If you are right, the other one learns something from your experience. If you are wrong, you're the one who learns. Most of the times, it's somewhere in between, but either way, by discussing your opinions and bringing arguments, everyone wins. That's the ideal situation.

The less-idyllic happens more often though, and then conflicts arise and disturb the work place. Ginka Toegel, professor in leadership and human behavior has come up with the method of 5 meetings that prevents work conflicts. You can read more in this blog article: How to Anticipate and Resolve a Work Conflict.