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Why Now Might NOT Be the Best Time to Resolve a Conflict

Why Now Might NOT Be the Best Time to Resolve a Conflict

This week, I address another conflict resolution question that came from an audience member at a recent presentation. “Is it a good tactic to avoid the conflict while the things cooled down and talk about it later with a clear and open mind to others position?” I believe the person is suggesting the ‘conflict resolution’ session be ‘avoided’ until things cooled down and not the conflict should be avoided. I don’t believe any conflict should be avoided, good or bad. It should always be managed, which may involve some type of intervention if it escalates. [Related: 5 Tips to Manage the Storming Phase of Group Development] As I was attempting to facilitate the resolution of a conflict between two clients, Mike and Frank, I had on a wilderness expedition it became clear to me this was not the right time. The conflict had been brewing for a few days and was gradually escalating in intensity. Their behavior was starting to affect the whole team, making everyone feel uncomfortable when Mike and Frank were around each other. As the leader, I knew their behavior couldn’t go on if our team was going to perform at its best, which would be needed to achieve our lofty goals. I wanted to resolve the conflict so I brought the two guys together to run through a conflict resolution model (download a detailed description of the model). The first step in the exercise is the Ventilation stage, where both parties have an opportunity to vent all their frustrations by detailing the exact effect that other person’s behavior is having on them. It is important...
7 Ways to Manage Conflicts with your Boss

7 Ways to Manage Conflicts with your Boss

In a recent conflict resolution webinar that I was presenting to 1400 project managers, I had several people ask me the same type of question: how do you manage the conflict when your manager’s poor leadership skills are a significant source of the conflict? One thing is for sure: it’s not fun having a manager with poor leadership skills. I once worked for a director who was a poor leader and it was disheartening, especially when I would speak with other employees of the company and hear how great their director was to work for. My disgruntled feeling working for this director had nothing to do with the company. I actually loved the organization. If my contract had not ended, I don’t think I would have stayed at the company much longer if I had to continue working under that director. If at the time I had known of the skills listed below for working with poor managers, my time could have been much productive and enjoyable. I was clearly headed down the road to live up to the saying ‘People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.’ But what if you don’t want to or are not in a position to leave the company and your best option is to stick it out with this manager? If you find yourself dealing with a difficult boss, some of these tips should help you alleviate a part of the conflict and stress that the boss has created. This is often referred to ‘managing up’. 1.    Be Sure About the Real Issue In any conflicting situations, it is essential you look all...
Don’t Lose Respect this Way!

Don’t Lose Respect this Way!

You have cleared your schedule, did your preparation, made arrangements for others to cover what you are supposed to be doing during the time, and drove in traffic for an hour to get there. As you get out of the car, you get a text on your phone saying they had to cancel the meeting that was due to start in 10 minutes. Just about nothing frustrates me more than wasted time and resources. (The one thing that may get to me, even more, is the complete meltdown my kids throw as we try to head out the door, but that is a topic for another day.) When my time and resources are wasted, I start plucking out any hair that’s left in my head in frustration. If you commit to a meeting time and place DON’T CANCEL IT! If you are at all concerned about the value of the meeting and wonder if you should cancel, you may want to download my The 7-Step Blueprint for Meetings That Actually Add Value! PDF. Outside of an emergency, the only time you should cancel is well in advance of the meeting date. Few excuses would be acceptable for a late cancellation of a meeting. If you do have to cancel… If you do have to cancel you had better, be clear and transparent to why. This is not a good time to gloss over your reason for the cancellation. You have already frustrated the attendees and now you risk losing their respect. The one way to hold on to any sort of respect for a late meeting cancellation is to...
How Quality Leaders Get Out of the Way

How Quality Leaders Get Out of the Way

Leaders Prioritize – Leaders Respond Recently, a friend was in some slow moving employment contract negotiations. There was no animosity and both sides were excited that the contract was offered. After the initial flurry of emails that led to the offer, the employer became very slow to respond to emails when the fine-tuning negotiating started. The employer would send an email. My friend would respond in a few hours and then days would go by before she would hear back from them. It turns out, most of the time, the gentleman representing the employer was travelling or waiting for more information before getting back to her. Both are perfectly normal reasons for not having a decision right away but no excuse for not sending a short email, letting her know why he couldn’t provide the decision in a timely manner. In the silence, my friend was growing more and more stressed that the employer was going to back out of the contract. In reality, that was not the case at all. In the end, it all worked out but in the process, considerable time and energy, and a little respect were lost. Had the employer acknowledged the receipt of the corresponding emails and either responded with an answer or mentioned when he would get back with a proper response, the trust and respect level would have remained high while eliminating unnecessary anxiety. If he could not write a complete answer to the email in an appropriate time, a simple one-line explanation why and when to expect the response would be the appropriate thing to do. Get Out of the...
How to Make Yourself Indispensable

How to Make Yourself Indispensable

In today’s outsourcing, downsizing, volatile economy, people are more worried than ever about losing their job, no matter the position they hold. Here is one way to make it less likely you will lose your job and even if you do, this practice will greatly help you move on to your next job or a freelance career. The late, great personal development expert, Zig Zigular, famously said “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” Too often, we find ourselves living in the world of ME, with constant thoughts of how is this going to help ME, what have they done for ME, and I need to cover my ass so it doesn’t affect ME. Well, I am here to tell you, you are not as important as you want to believe. So, stop worrying about ME and focus on how you can help others. By shifting your thoughts and subsequent actions to always look for a way to help others, you start making yourself indispensable. You can even learn a great deal along the way. By constantly helping those above you get what they want, they will directly see the value you offer and become an advocate for you, potentially defending your position when the next downsizing rotation comes around. You are providing them support in order to earn your way up. This is fine because you are earning it! Think of everything you do for others as an investment in your personal development. Clear a path for those above you to create an eventual path for yourself....
3 Elements to ‘Lifelong’ Success

3 Elements to ‘Lifelong’ Success

As a child, I was not a big fan of being a student, at least the academic side. I thoroughly enjoyed the social, sports and extracurricular (outdoor clubs, scouts, etc.) activities but not the academic testing. I couldn’t wait until I was finished school and university so I could stop being a student and get on with my life. This attitude changed during my third year of university when I discovered a career that blended my passions and skills. That career was in adventure-based experiential education, essentially utilizing the wilderness to teach personal growth and leadership development. That was something I was excited about learning and still am. In my youth, I thought that when I finished my undergraduate degree, I would be done with being a student. Little did I know my student journey was just beginning and (hopefully) will stay with me till I die. I don’t miss those written exams on my learning in my youth and to this day believe there are better ways for the school system to educate and evaluate education retention in kids, but that is a topic for another day. “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford In the book ‘Ego is the Enemy’, Ryan Holiday points out three elements needed to become a lifelong learner and maintain a student mindset. Without realizing it, I have been fortunate to have these 3 elements for most of my adult life, I hope you can say the same. The 3 elements to needed for ‘lifelong’ success are: Mentor Support: It is critical...
Why You Should Avoid Most Anonymous Feedback

Why You Should Avoid Most Anonymous Feedback

(Free list of 11 online applications for employee feedback, appreciation, and retention)   When is it OK to give anonymous feedback? I was disappointed and excited this week when I did a poll of the 1200 project managers on a webinar I was delivering and it showed that 56% said they don’t give their team members enough feedback. Clearly, I was disappointed that so many leaders felt they were not giving their team enough feedback but I was excited that they were aware of this and took the initiative to join the webinar to learn effective feedback techniques. In today’s post, I will address a question I was asked at the end of the webinar. Q. When Is It OK To Give Anonymous Feedback? It frustrates me that so many corporate evaluations, especially 360o ones, are often completed anonymously. I have always said that if you aren’t giving the feedback to a person face to face (in person or virtually), you shouldn’t give it at all. Personal feedback is just that, personal. I understand it can be a nerve-wracking experience but with the proper techniques, it can be a smooth and productive exchange. When giving personal feedback, the receiver needs to be given an opportunity to respond to the information they are receiving. Their response may be as simple as Thank You or could be as elaborate as explaining a complete misunderstanding. There has to be an opportunity for a dialogue. People naturally give unspecific feedback. If it was given anonymously, the receiver could not explore the feedback further with the person and at best the feedback opportunity would...
Do You and Your Team Really Understand?

Do You and Your Team Really Understand?

Speak Up and Make a Difference! In the past couple weeks, as a consumer, I have had two experiences where I have been affected by an organization’s policy that I thought was completely ridiculous based on my experience. In both cases, when I approached the frontline employee looking for an explanation, they shared in my frustration and also thought the policy was unwarranted. In one case, I addressed a (middle) manager about the policy and he also felt the same way. (To avoid turning this into a rant, I won’t explain the situations here. If you want more details send me an email.) Is this the reaction you would want from your team members when speaking with customers, clients or suppliers? As a leader, I know I would want my team to clearly understand and accept all our policies and have a clear and compelling explanation for any policy that may affect a customer. If they didn’t believe in the policy for whatever reason, I would expect them to approach me or senior management seeking further clarification or (even better) offer an alternative suggestion on why the policy should be removed or altered. I don’t want to be surrounded by a team of YES people or sheep with blinders on who just follow along without ever asking WHY. Stand Up For What You Believe Perhaps I am just a shit disturber or passionate about the work I do and the people I do it for. Nevertheless, when I am working for an organization and I don’t think something is right or could be improved, I will speak up or...
Professional Development for Parents

Professional Development for Parents

This post is for the parents and soon to be parents out there. Sorry non-parents, I will be back to regular programming in my next post. As I mentioned in my last post, if you are parent, you are a leader. I have an important question for you. What is more important to you: your role as a parent or your role in your job? Most parents I speak with quickly say Parenting! Well, then why have you put in only 1/10th of the training you have put into to acquire your ‘day’ job? Parenting IS A Job! Parenting is a job and it is time you start treating it this way. Parents act and say irrational things all the time. Just think of some of the dumb things you have said and done while you lost your cool at your kids. Now, can you imagine acting this way in the office the next time you had a disagreement or something didn’t happen the way you wanted? I lost my cool on my kids several times in a week last fall and being a leadership and communication guy, that got me thinking…. What is really causing this blow up and there’s got to be a better way to communicate with my kids. The behaviors of my kids and myself was not acceptable to me and I wasn’t willing to carry on like this for years to come, i.e. making it “normal’ behavior in our family. I reached out for support, advice and training to be the best leader parent for my kids. I am still on this journey and...
Leaders: Born or Made?

Leaders: Born or Made?

This week, I address the most consistent question I have received over my 20 years of teaching leadership. This question is especially popular with young and emerging leaders. Are Leaders Born Or Made?   My quick answer to this age-old question is YES. Perhaps my answer is a bit biased, as I have been instructing leadership in some capacity for 20 years and if people were born leaders, I would have been wasting my breath all these years. I believe every person is born with leadership qualities but the most effective leaders have been crafted through years of observing quality role models, experimenting, mentorship and constant personal development (courses, books, mentoring, etc). If you are born with the capacity to produce offspring, you are born with leadership qualities. Those qualities may lay dormant for years or flourish as a child or young adult but they are there. Not one outstanding leader would say they were born with their leadership abilities and that’s it. Sure, they may have been born with stronger leadership tendencies but however strong they were, they were raw. These effective leaders developed their skills over many years of emulating leadership practices they saw in others and through deliberate practice on their own, even if that practice meant they failed many times over while in leadership positions. My mother always told me I gravitated to leadership situations as a kid, at first organizing street hockey and baseball games with the neighborhood kids. I agree somewhat but by no means was I the best or the most natural leader. Of the dozens of sports teams (soccer, basketball, volleyball, water...