Happy Halloween

I have to admit; whenever I see a pet dressed up for Halloween I get a smile on my face. And, you can admit it… the picture above made you smile, too!

It’s Friday!

It’s the last day of October!

And, it’s Halloween!

Hooray!

Share your favorite kids or pet costumes you see today to spread the cheer.

Happy Halloween!

Let’s Collaborate Together!

Last week we considered the stages of teams (forming, norming, and storming). Did you peg where your team falls?

Whether you are working at creating norms or are in the middle of a storm, collaboration (one of the conflict management techniques) is a great way to bring the team together.

Dr. Terry Hildebrandt, Professional Certified Coach and co- author of Leading Business Change for Dummies, is back this week with 7 helpful tips on how to successfully collaborate as a team!

Here is what Terry suggests:

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 1.14.22 PM“Collaboration holds the promise of a win-win outcome, which is more creative and robust than solutions we might be able to come up with on our own.  While we often talk about the virtues of collaboration, actually doing it is often more challenging than we think.

Below are seven steps to collaboration along with key tools and techniques that leaders can use to facilitate a group through collaboration.

  • Raise the Conflict Issue– Be willing to surface and name the issue. Once you do, we can move to the next step.
  • Get Curious– Holding an attitude of curiosity enables us to move away from defending our own position to exploring other’s perspectives with an open mind.
  • Identify Underlying Concerns– We may think that we understand the root of the issue – but often times we are incorrect or have partial understanding. On Terry’s blog, he has some best practices on how to do this, which will help you move to greater awareness.
  • Develop a Shared Purpose Statement– This is the essence of collaboration – we move from having my concerns and your concerns to our concerns. Create common goals to rally around. This sets the stage for creative brainstorming.
  • Generate Solutions– All parties work together to brainstorm solutions that can meet all the needs, address the concerns, and reach the goals defined in the Shared Purpose. And, be sure to use brainstorming rules to avoid premature judgment of ideas.
  • Rank the Options and Agree on the Best Solution that Works for Everyone– Using the brainstormed list of solutions, rate each idea based on how well it meets the Shared Purpose criteria. Decide on a decision making process as a group. This could be consensus with qualification or a formal process such as Kepner-Tregoe Decision Analysis.
  • Devise a Plan for Implementation and Evaluation– The hard work of collaboration can really pay off at this step, since you have strong alignment and support for the plan of action. Take advantage of the momentum from the collaborative exercise to quickly develop an implementation plan to see the fruit of your labor!”

How can you use collaboration this week to either bring team unity or to help resolve a conflict?

Forming, Norming, and Storming

10:00AM: Your team meeting is scheduled to start.

You look down at your watch. It feels like the second hand is moving so quickly – precious seconds you could be using to respond to emails and finish that presentation seem to sprint away.

10:05AM: Everyone else on your team is with you in the conference room except for one person.

You know, that one person on your team who is ALWAYS late to meetings. You don’t like to put people in a box, but seriously – they are always late. And you can tell the team is just as annoyed about the situation as you are.

10:10AM: The late (and flustered) team member sprints into the conference room, ruffles through their papers to get the clean sheet out and pen ready for the meeting that was scheduled to start 10 minutes ago.

ARGH! How do you handle situations like this? Or even deeper rooted aspects of conflict?

We asked Coach Helen Cooper, with over 20 years of experience in coaching leaders of large companies and start ups, about conflict management in teams.

Here is what she had to say:

Helen Cooper- BlogTeams go through a normal formation cycle of forming, norming and storming. To minimize the ‘storming’ (the conflict), ‘norming’ is VERY important.

Engage as a team to really talk through and agree on team values. As a leader, you must be willing to facilitate and work with (collaborate!) the team… not dictate.

This creates a safe way for the team to talk through the specific behaviors required for success and to not put individual team members on the defensive.

An example of a team value might be, ‘we will listen to each other and not talk about each other.’ The value of listening to each other could help the team to talk through this behavior and ask ‘why’. Then, that individual has a chance to explain why.

Another value could be that when issues surface the team can’t successfully resolve among themselves (the example of being late), the team can expect the team leader to intervene and resolve these behavioral issues on behalf of the team.

So, after the conflict has resolved what do you look at next?

The ‘now what’ implies that the team continues to mature. If assignments change or the team scales, the cycle of team development of norming, forming, storming will repeat.

Teams must continually work on their team evolution when environments change. Time is required to discuss not just ‘what’ the team must deliver but also ‘how’ they are going to continue working together.

Take a look at your team this week. Is your team currently forming, norming, or storming?

Also, think about if your team has established “norms” for team behavior. If not, look at scheduling a meeting to talk through some of these things.

It may help you to navigate the storm that will eventually come!

How Do You Handle Conflict?

Now that we’re digging into managing conflict – do you know your conflict management style?

We asked Dr. Terry Hildebrandt, Professional Certified Coach and co- author of Leading Business Change for Dummies, about different ways to manage conflict. Here’s what he had to say:

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 1.14.22 PM

When we think of conflict, often we assume that there is only one way to handle it. Kenneth W. Thomas (2002) and Ralph Kilmann have actually identified five strategies to deal with conflict – each having strengths and weaknesses. Managing conflict is a critical management skill that involves partnering with others, building relationships, effectively listening, and negotiation.

Conflict arises when our desires or concerns are at odds with someone else’s desires or concerns. The five conflict styles are a function of two variables: (a) how much you try to satisfy your own concerns, known as assertiveness, and (b) how much you try to satisfy others’ concerns, known as cooperativeness. Here is a brief overview of each style.

Competing: This is perhaps what most of us consider when we think of conflict. We try to win or get what we want, and the other party loses. Competing is high assertiveness and low cooperativeness.

Accommodating: When we accommodate, we give the other person what they want but forgo our own needs or desires. We are unassertive and cooperative.

Avoiding: Many people prefer to avoid conflict altogether. In this case, we are unassertive and uncooperative.

Compromising: When we comprise, we get some of what we want and the other party also gets something, but neither party gets all of their concerns met. We take an intermediate position on both assertiveness and cooperativeness

Collaborating: Much has been written the last decade on the value of collaboration or creating “win-win” solutions. Here we are both assertive and cooperative. Not only do we ensure that our own concerns are addressed, we also take on the concerns of the other party and work together to meet their needs as well.

Terry has gone into some more depth on these conflict styles on his blog.

So, this week, think about which category of conflict management you usually work in.

Then, think about a current or past conflict and determine which type of management style would be best in creating a resolution!

Conflict Hit… Now What?

You were hoping for an easy day, weren’t you?

You know… those days where you get to work, know what you need to do, put out a couple of “small” fires, cross off most things on your list, and are able to leave feeling accomplished.

Instead, you came in, started on things like you had planned, and then it hit.

The conflict.

Really, this conflict could have been anything – personality differences among team members, non- compliance with policy, performance review issues, differences in goals… and the list goes on.

As the leader, you play a key role in resolving conflict. Knowing your conflict style, the general flow of how teams work, and how to promote collaboration are all key in how you assist in resolving conflict. We’ll be looking at these tools in the coming weeks.

But for now, here are a couple of key questions to think through when conflict arises:

  • What is the literal situation you have been presented with?
  • What could be at the root of the conflict? (fear, insecurity, anger, confusion, etc.)
  • Who does the conflict involve?
  • What are different concerns, hopes, and fears?
  • Who needs to be present during resolution conversations?
  • What could potential resolutions look like?

We’d suggest considering these questions before addressing the conflict.

Openly identifying the situation, your position, and what resolution could look like will help to create a sense of peace and clarity – even in some of the most difficult conflicts.