One of my secret indulgences is that I really like the Shrek movies and their notable characters.  The crusty, prickly, but kind-hearted Ogre has to “endure” the illogical Donkey, the swarthy Puss-n-Boots, and the sometimes-misunderstood Fiona.  Throughout their merry adventures, various conflicts arise as these colorful personalities interact.  They care about each other, but at times can’t tolerate each other.  Ironically, these characters can accurately reflect the workplace.  The workplace is often messy with ups and downs when it comes to relationships and conflict.  Nonetheless, team members have to resolve sources of conflict if they want to accomplish their goal, task, or even a quest.  So, what three conflicts loom at the top?

The first that must be addressed is assumption bias.  Assumption bias is the inability to overcome personal biases to the extent that true problem sources are obscured.  When blinded by assumption bias, we automatically believe we know what a co-worker, a family member, or even a client is going to say before they respond to a need or issue.  Communication is crippled.  Rather than truly hearing the words of the other, we “filter” them through our assumptions.  For example, when I interact with my co-worker, Sally, I often feel overwhelmed by her need for details.  When Sally and I both are called into a meeting to discuss a recent sales shortfall, Sally starts to ask some clarifying questions.  My response, internally, is to say, “There goes Sally again.  She can’t see the forest because she’s fixated on the trees.  This is such a waste of time.”  Instead of listening to what Sally is really asking, I have just tuned her out.  Instead of collaborating, I start to feel resentment creep up, because I believe Sally is just wasting our time.  At some point, I sigh, my eyes roll, I check out on my phone, and Sally knows I am not listening.  Conflict arises.  Assumption bias has scored again.  In truth, I really don’t even know what Sally has said.

The second conflict complaint that must be addressed is how to motivate team members or employees.  Many leaders underestimate how motivation can actually demotivate.  These are the people who think they are offering encouragement or direction but what they are really serving up is a healthy dose of criticism.  Years ago, as a young leader, I received from my boss a nice note complimenting my effort on a project in which I had invested extra time and energy.  The next day, I received another note from the same boss that suggested I not think too highly of the previous day’s praise lest I become prideful.  In between the two notes, we had had no additional interaction.  I don’t think my boss intended harm, but rather wanted to balance the previous “encouragement”.  Needless to say, I found the experience incredibly demotivating.  I found myself more cautious with my boss, because I didn’t want to be “encouraged” again.  This kind of motivation fosters conflict if only internal, because staff members or employees will struggle in environments they perceive as toxic.  AND, even worse, they will often leave.

There are solutions to help a team or a business overcome these conflict complaints.  Come discover the answers and hear the third complaint which includes the number one secret for success in leading teams.  I’ll be sharing all these details as part of a training event sponsored by the East Lincoln Business Association (ELBA).  ELBA exists to support and strengthen businesses and every year they sponsor ELBA-U, an interactive workshop designed to meet the needs of business leaders in Lincoln.  If you are interested in the above topics and are looking for a great networking event, make plans to attend on April 25th from 3-5 pm.  For more information and/or to register click here.

Until next time,

Dan