Why can’t the National Football League sit, kneel, and stand simultaneously? Because nothing can pull-off this feat. It’s simply not physically possible. But this is precisely what the NFL is attempting to placate the public at-large, its very enthusiastic fan base, and its critics. Ironically, the league’s most recent controversy came just days before the anniversary of Francis Scott Key writing the Star-Spangled Banner in 1814 during the War of 1812. It’s evident the single largest sports organization in the United States does not want to deal with conflict. This is a sobering reminder of the truism, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
Why the NFL can’t Sit, Kneel, and Stand Simultaneously
John Lydgate, a 15th century English monk and poet, put into words what humankind experienced for hundreds of years. Now, in the 21st century, we are seeing the phenomenon unfold firsthand, yet again. It’s a great lesson demonstrating consequences still materialize even when no overt action is taken. This series of incidents prove there is a real need for leadership when conflict arises. Let’s face it, businesses must deal with emergencies. While this particular controversy does not constitute outright crisis, it does warrant a genuine discussion.
Workplace conflicts can emerge in any number of forms, but there are some general, garden-variety types that I see on a repeated basis: conflicts with the boss, conflicts with peers and conflicts among a manager’s direct reports or teammates. In all of these cases, leaders need to consider two basic questions. How important is the issue? And, how important is this relationship? Your answers will determine whether to let it slide or try to resolve it. —Washington Post.com
The fact of the matter is, these types of circumstances do happen in business. Employees take sides and eventually, once palpable frustration erupts. People lose their tempers. Heated words are exchanged. As a result, morale and cohesion are abruptly interrupted. In the aftermath, employees may exhibit signs they are about to quit. While there’s no magic cure, at the very least, it’s up to you as the leader to usher in calm and restore peace.
How to Deal with Workplace Conflict
An unfortunate fact of life is leadership and conflict are inseparable. There’s just no way around it, as John Lydgate cleverly explains in his poetry. When you run a business, you will inevitably encounter conflict. Conflict with vendors. Conflict with employees. Conflict between employees. Such strife requires skilled communication. It means knowing how to deal with employee infighting is a necessary part of building a business. Here are some helpful suggestions about how to deal with workplace conflict:
Allow individuals to express their feelings. The best place to start is to allow individuals to express their feelings in a tempered, but free and open exchange. If necessary, moderate the discussion and listen carefully what’s being said. Also, pay close attention to body language as this will be a huge tell. By allowing thoughts and feelings to come out in the open, you are facilitating communication and fostering a level of camaraderie.
Define the core problems. Once you hear each individual’s concerns, work with everyone to define the core problem. It could be very obvious at this early juncture but might well be elusive. Keep the discussion going with everyone participating so nothing is overlooked.
Find common ground. Identify similarities or pinpoint areas of overlap to find common ground. Once common ground is found, you can easily build on it. Do not overcomplicate the process, keep it simple and stay on-point. Agree on the underlying problem and determine a procedure to follow a path forward.
Create amicable solutions. Give and take will play a big role in finding amicable solutions. It’s okay to devise multiple alternatives and define which actions will follow. Encourage input from all to ensure each person agrees with the proposed actions. Modify as needed by advocating more input. Then, put the agreed plan into action.
Follow-up periodically. The next few days to weeks will likely require a bit more tweaking and it’s important to follow-up even if no more conflict is evident. Do so individually to learn how things are proceeding with each team member.
Don’t ignore the problem. Don’t do like the NFL by ignoring their players sitting, kneeling or standing during the National Anthem. A league who regulates and dictates what color socks or wrist bands their players can wear needs to make a decision on how they want their players to “stand up” and respect our American heritage during the National Anthem.
How have you dealt with workplace conflict in the past? What are the most effective techniques? Which techniques are the least effective? Please comment and join the discussion!