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Turning Team Conflict into Productive Discussions

July 31st, 2013

By: Karen Colligan

Productive DiscussionsConflict on teams is inevitable. And when managed effectively, it can actually be a good thing. New ideas are born; relationships are deepened through the airing and resolution of differences; teams grow stronger. But when you are a leader in the midst of conflict and attempting to deal with it while juggling everything else, it can be a bit overwhelming. Here are 5 tips for managing team conflict effectively.
1. Know your own style and “over-extenders.” Understanding your leadership strengths and how you react under stress is essential to handling conflict in a constructive manner. Often our positive traits can be perceived as negative when over-extended. For example, if you tend to set the bar high for yourself and others (Leading with Drive) this may be perceived as an unreasonable demand for perfection by a team that is struggling with workload or other internal issues. If your strength is Leading through People, when over-extended you may spend too much time trying to make sure everyone is happy rather than focusing on the collective team goals.
2. Know your team. The best teams bring diverse personalities, skills and experience to the table. Recognizing the value each individual’s skills and traits contribute to the team and how they complement (and potentially conflict with) each other will help you lay the groundwork for effective conflict resolution. Build team awareness and appreciation of different styles, and provide opportunities for productive interactions and mutual understanding.
3. Make the time to just listen. When a deadline is looming and the team can’t seem to get past a conflict barrier, you may be tempted, as the leader, to force an end to the issue and just push your position through. Don’t. Make time to listen to all sides so you can get to the core of the issue and help the team develop a solution.
4. Harness the power of diverse thinking. Create an environment that encourages open communication and fresh ideas and approaches. Reach out to those who are less vocal to ensure that their ideas get added to the mix. When everyone feels heard and appreciated, “conflicts” become productive discussions.
5. Chart the way forward. Embrace the “lessons learned” from the bumps on the journey, refocus on the goals and move forward.
Want to learn more about your leadership style and the styles of your team for more effective conflict resolution? Contact me at kcolligan@PeopleThink.biz.
Till next time,

Communication, conflict resolution, Leadership, People, Professional and team leadership, Teams

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Leading in the Age of Peanut Butter

July 16th, 2013

By: Karen Colligan

Leading or ManagingTalk to just about anyone in Corporate America today and they’ll tell you that their team is spread pretty thin, many people still doing the work of two following downsizing, and most struggling to meet the ever-increasing demand of “do more in less time.” People are stressed and stretched.

It is the Age of Peanut Butter. And like with peanut butter, the more pressure you put on individuals to spread their time and efforts across a bigger slice of the workload, the thinner and thinner the coverage (and their patience, and their engagement, and their loyalty) will be.

Leading in this environment is challenging because we get caught up in “checking the boxes” and focusing on the management side of our role versus applying those key leadership skills that help keep employees engaged – coaching, inspiring, developing. There’s just no time. We’re just too busy. There are too many boxes still to check. And yet, at what cost do we keep spreading ourselves and others thinner and thinner?

Stop for a minute and think about this. Are you spending most of your time telling your team what needs to be done rather than asking them how things could be done better? Is your door closed more often than open these days? Have you stopped scheduling one-on-one meetings because you kept having to cancel them? If you want to keep your employees on board and engaged it’s time to get back into leadership mode.

Here’s an exercise for you. Put a picture in your head of the best leader you ever had. What were the characteristics of that leader that made them so great? Now visualize the worst leader you ever had. What were the characteristics that made you dislike them?

Now think about how you are leading today. Which of your two past leaders are you most like?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” - John Quincy Adams

Till next time,



Engagement, Leadership, Management, People, Teams

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