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How can my team better navigate conflict?
How can my team better navigate conflict?
Updated over a week ago

The challenge

Conflict is inevitable, but the way a manager handles it determines if it’s harmful or helpful

As a manager, dealing with conflict is often uncomfortable and confusing. Conflict can damage relationships and team effectiveness, but if handled properly, it can also be productive and lead to better ideas, growth, and innovation.

As a manager, you play a crucial role in helping your team navigate conflict, resolve issues, learn, and move forward.

How do you deal with conflict? Two common traps:

  • Some managers tend to avoid conflict, sweep it under the rug, and take the “wait and see” approach in the hopes it sorts itself out. If you have Considerate and Reserved Core Drivers, you are more prone to this approach.

  • On the opposite end, some managers tackle the conflict aggressively, jumping straight to mediation, dictating what to do, and demanding resolution in a controlling manner. If you have Candid and Driven Drivers, you are more likely to take this approach.

Where do you fall?

The solution

The Core Drivers will help you understand potential sources of conflict

There is nothing wrong with conflict when it is managed well. Avoiding, hiding, or pushing away conflict does not result in positive outcomes. You will never find zero conflict in a high-performing team.

When people have different backgrounds, styles, traits, and values, and they must work together to achieve difficult goals, they need to debate and challenge one another to find the best solutions.

The key is working through these differences in a respectful and productive way. You can use the Core Drivers Team Report to better understand your team’s similarities and differences, helping you identify potential areas of conflict to proactively address them.

Here’s what you can do

Step 1: Review the Cognitive Diversity chart to help you identify similarities and differences

When your team is composed of people with different personality traits and values, they will have different perspectives and approaches to getting work done. If not managed properly, these differences can lead to tension and disagreements that negatively impact the team’s performance.

The best thing you can do as a manager is to help your team understand their differences so they don’t end up making the wrong assumptions about others’ intentions and behaviors.

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Step 2: Understand your team’s Core Risks

Conflict is more likely to arise when stress and pressure are high, there are tight deadlines, competing priorities, or limited resources. In these situations, Core Risks are more likely to emerge.

As a manager, it’s important to understand your team’s individual and collective Core Risks so that you can help them be proactive about managing them. Help each person realize the negative impact those behaviors can have on others.

Step 3: Create a culture of Curiosity and Consideration

Curiosity is an antidote for conflict because you can’t be both curious and angry (or sad or fearful). Try it for yourself – can you remember a time when your curiosity got the better of feeling cross or huffy with someone else?

Curiosity is called an epistemic emotion. It’s a feeling triggered by contrary or conflicting information which prompts us to consider and reflect and explore. When curiosity is triggered, we think more rationally about decisions and generate creative solutions.

Acting with more Consideration will help you and your team communicate in a more respectful way. This means paying more attention to the needs, feelings, and emotions of others. When you express your curiosity with kindness instead of being blunt or insensitive, you’ll get better answers.

People will put their guard down, open up, and show you kindness in return.

Final thoughts

Curiosity + Consideration = “I’m not sure I understand you, but I really want to.”

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