7 Ways to unintentionally create conflict on your teamImagine this. You call your team together to review status on all active projects in the department. You use this as a training opportunity for the team members with emerging skills to demonstrate their expertise at reporting out on projects, while more seasoned team members offer constructive feedback. This occurs within the nurturing and safe environment where only your team is present. Everything goes well during the meeting and your trusted advisers on the team compliment you on your foresight to develop executive presence in emerging project managers.
After the team meeting, you are surprised to find out that some members of your team are angry, upset, and ready to tell you to stick your job where the sun doesn't shine. What went wrong? Your good intentions created conflict in some team members and demoralized them, while others are grinning like a Cheshire cat. Same meeting, same interactions, diametrically opposing experiences from team members.
Here's what happened. Your setting and the words you used, enhanced the self-worth for some team members, and directly attacked the self-worth of other team members. Not only did you attack self-worth of your team, you were oblivious to the conflict you caused, and did not try to rectify your blunder. Any wonder that you need to sleep with one eye open tonight?
What should you have done? Let's assume that you have an evenly distributed team, one team member representing each of the seven Motivational Value Systems® (MVS). When you took these actions, you attacked their self-worth and unwittingly launched your attack on their self-worth.
|MVS®||Your action that caused conflict|
|Blue||Asking probing questions of your team member in a group setting, in front of her peers. She interprets this as aggressive behavior.|
|Red||Focusing on minor details. You have a strong "green" tendency, having a software engineering background. Your "red" team member strives for action and glosses over the details. Perfect breeding ground for conflict. |
|Green||When you aggressively demanded a decision regarding the impact of a new project risk, on the spot, without time to analyse the information. |
|Hub||When you said "I am open to new ideas, as long as they fit in with the way we do things around here. We don't want people to have too many options."|
|Blue-Red||In addition to the blunders you made for the blue and red team members, your statement "Calm down, this is a trivial matter" caused a non-trivial conflict. |
|Red-Green||Your voice lacked confidence when you said "This team is important to me and these meetings are an opportunity to develop executive presence."|
|Blue-Green||When you attempted to increase your power and "Report out to me as if you were reporting the status of your project to the CEO."|
Given this imaginary situation, you are probably wondering "What can I say or do that does not cause conflict on my team. It seems that every word is an attack on someone's self-worth and I can't be a leader while tip-toeing over the eggshells in fear of creating conflict."
In my workshops around New England, attendees are amazed at how frequently conflict is caused by well-intended minor actions. Lack of confidence in your voice, and focus on details, can be interpreted as an attack on self-worth to a team member. Your team cannot achieve peak performance while team members feel their self-worth is being attacked.
As the manager of your department, as the team leader, you and your team can avoid unnecessary conflict by applying Relationship Awareness Theory. If you want to develop talent in your team of project managers, then you will get further by helping them to discover their own strengths, and skills to modify their behaviors to avoid attacks on the self-worth of project team members.
Your ability to lead and influence your team members will increase when you are trained in Relationship Awareness Theory and can borrow behaviors to communicate with a person in a way that enhances their own self-worth. Think about it. If you are a "green" MVS® (like myself), then you want to see the details and have time to make your own decisions. When a "red" person gives you only a brief executive summary of the new year-long project, and asks you to commit company resources, all in the same breath, then you become frustrated.
How much better would the outcome be if your team members knew their own strengths, your strengths, and you were both aware of the best communication styles for your relationships? What would the value be to your career when you earn the reputation of developing excellent project managers? In the words of a popular advertising slogan - "priceless".