Able to collaborate with others and manage conflict
What is it?
Conflict is a normal part of every relationship. It happens when two or more people have different perspectives, opinions or ideas about any given topic.
Why is it important?
At best, creative conflict helps groups gain a more accurate and nuanced understanding of just about any topic through the sharing of divergent perspectives. At worst, it can threaten the cohesion and commitment of team members and can compromise the effectiveness of both individuals and the team as a whole. Differences of opinion can easily turn into personality conflicts.
Address Unresolved Conflict
The first place to start in dealing with conflict is to examine our own relationships to see if we have any unresolved conflict with others. We can hold grudges and feel resentment which negatively impacts the relationships we have with coworkers. We need to own up to those feelings and deal with them. That might mean choosing to let something go or it might mean going to that person and talking about the interpersonal tension that exists. For example, you could say something like: “Bob, I know we haven’t seen eye to eye on a lot of issues but I respect you and want to figure out how to work together more effectively for the sake of our department.” Most people will be very responsive to your offer of reconciliation.
Encourage Healthy Conflict
Second, we need to have appropriate attitudes about conflict and debate. Some people are insensitive and don’t realize they are coming across aggressively. Others are conflict avoidant and take things too personally. Managers needs to reinforce the importance of debate and deliberation but also need to suggest some ground rules. At your next team or staff meeting, share some specific ground rules for discussion. Introduce the idea that vigorous debate and the differences of opinion are important but suggest that comments should never be personal and that any hard feelings cannot spill over into future meetings.
The question “Why were company sales down last year?” can evoke a multitude of perspectives and differences of opinion. Conversations can get heated and team members can take it out on each other. Confront direct reports who are not playing fair or not getting along well with others. Coach them to deal with their issues maturely in order to serve the greater good of the team or organization.