3 Ways Top CEOs Handle Team Conflict

posted by Administrator on 11/26/2018 in Blog Posts  | Tagged , , ,

Many times in business, conflict is inevitable. Though it can be uncomfortable for some, knowing how to manage conflict is a key skill every CEO must master in order to be able to propel their teams and organization forward. This is especially true because constructive conflict is a necessary part of growth. In fact, according to leading CEO peer group consultants, the most successful teams are those that are able to balance differences while getting shared consensus to achieve business goals.

Here are the top three ways you can help leverage healthy conflict to keep your teams focused and productive.

Step #1 – Establish Team Trust

The corporate culture you set is important in shaping how conflict is handled and, more importantly, how your employees respond to it. The first step in creating a welcoming environment where conflict can be embraced is to establish trust within your teams. Without your teams being rooted in trust, any form of conflict or criticism will seem like a personal attack.

In order to build trust within your teams be sure to encourage all team members to share their thoughts, ideas, opinions, concerns, etc. without fear of punishment. You want to openly hear all team members equally (be careful never to play “favorites”) and avoid criticizing a team member’s contributions in front of the group. As the CEO, you are responsible for setting the tone and showing your teams that you are fair and dedicated to helping them feel valued. In addition, never punish someone for revealing their mistake or “bad news”. It is always better to deal head on with reality than to subliminally encourage your team members to “cover up” important information. Your ability to build trust is also firmly based on your ability to encourage honesty, at all levels.

Step #2 – Encourage Constructive Conflict

With a strong foundation of trust in place, your teams can now embrace conflict in a healthy and constructive way. Remember, “conflict” is not a negative term and when used right, it can be a way to spur deeper discussions and more creative thinking. To assist your teams in embracing conflict, be sure to ask provoking questions to get team members to share their complete thinking. It is essential that you strive to push past assumptions and seek a more thorough understanding. When you ask questions, you are able to uncover misconceptions, better evaluate ideas, and address any derailing mindsets that could keep your teams from being productive. As you probe your teams to challenge them to think deeper, make a point to encourage all team members (including those that may be more reserve) to participate by sharing their thoughts. When team members have differing views or ideas, be sure to explore each thoroughly by examining the facts behind their arguments. This way you embrace the diversity among your team members while also strategically determining the best course of action.

Step #3 – Commit to Action

Once all ideas and opinions have been shared and considered, you must ensure that your teams execute on any agreed upon actions. Too often, executive leaders fail to set concrete action items for their teams, ultimately losing momentum for all those involved. Not only should you encourage conflict, but be sure to collectively settle on an action plan with specific deadlines and deliverables. In this stage, accountability is key to keep the team producing and harvesting the power of conflict to make better decisions. When necessary, assign roles to tasks and always document what the team discussed and agreed on.

As the leader of your organization, how you choose to manage conflict and use it to motivate your teams, is up to you. However, when you are able to help your teams explore their diversity and encourage differing ideas, you will be able to gain a broader view of available options and make more sound business decisions.

Do you struggle with managing conflict? Could you benefit from having direct support from an award-winning CEO peer group? If so, The Brain Trust invites you to explore our hands-on CEO development program here.