Learn To LOVE Conflict

By Beverly Flaxington, Principal, The Collaborative on Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Conflicts are a natural part of any organization, including financial advisory teams. No firm is conflict-free, but unresolved conflict can lead to all kinds of obstacles in processes and between employees and the management, or between individual employees.  How do financial advisors ensure the flow of communication includes openly resolving difficult issues or interpersonal conflicts? Let’s take a look at some basic “rules of engagement” for trying to create a professional environment where respectful conflict is encouraged:


Agree To Disagree

The leader advisor or partners need to let their employees know that it is “okay” to disagree. In fact, many a times a disagreement and debate can lead to innovative solutions and positive changes within the organization, as long as it is raised respectfully.


Safe Place

Establish a “safe place”, such as HR, for your employees if they want to address any issue. Provide them with appropriate internal or external support system if they feel the need to resolve difficult interpersonal conflicts.


Suggestion Boxes

Provide suggestion boxes via e-mail to establish open and clear communication lines with your staff. Hold a monthly forum to submit anonymous questions and have them answered by the designated person. You need to develop an environment where publicly addressing criticism or questions is acceptable.


A “No Gossip” Environment

Cultivate a healthy work culture where employees should be encouraged to address problems directly with the individual involved. Discourage gossip as it leads to a toxic work environment.
 

DISC Behavioral Tool

Learn and use the DISC behavioral tool to understand more about differences in communication styles. Everyone has a different working approach. It can be challenging, but important to embrace differences for diversity, creativity and a more balanced team. Accepting people who are different from you will serve you well in all aspects of life.
 

Refrain From Judging

Refrain from judging your colleagues. You have no clue why someone does what he or she does. Assume “positive intent” in your interactions with employees and managers. It can be quite liberating to reframe for a positive outcome instead of assuming the work intentions.
 

“I” Statements

Use “I” statements instead of “You” statements. The “I” statements are less accusatory as compared to “You” statements. If my behavior tends to offend you, take responsibility for your side of the equation.

It is critical for managers to inculcate positive conflict-resolving approaches within their organizations to ensure things turn ugly. Remember, your employees should feel safe to address conflicts in an open and respectable manner at the workplace.


Bev is the Co-Founder and Principal of The Collaborative, a firm that is an innovator in business growth through real world experience. The Collaborative has worked with thousands of individuals and businesses and has an impressive roster of client firms including Fortune 5000 firms, the world’s largest banks & investment managers, technology companies, Colleges & Universities, as well as other mid-sized to large businesses.

 
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