Profit from conflicts!

A zero-conflict workplace doesn’t exist, does it?

So, wise is the one who is able to make profits even from the conflicts, isn’t it?

To do that, your primary focus should be on how to prevent the conflict. Once, Max Lucade wrote:

“Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.”

So prevent the conflicts. Here are some tips to do so:

  1. Have people with integrity on board: Make sure your people have integrity and character.  The team is not a team but just a group of people if team members cannot trust one another. Remember, trust without integrity is just not possible.
  2. Invest in developing a listening skill: Make sure they possess good listening skills. If you recognize that some people lack such a skill, work on it. State clearly what specific steps they need to take in order to develop listening skills. For example, encouraging them to attend Landmark Forum could be a good option.
  3. Have them read the One Minute Manager: Make sure that they have not only read The One Minute Manager, they really understand it from its deepest insights. Remember, we are just not an individual but an individual managing our own behavior – and this book focuses on some of the most powerful management principles.
  4. Don’t accept anything but solution-focused approach: Many people have a habit to complain or criticize about something. That’s okay when they also come with the possible solutions. In fact, a problem presented with a possible solution is a key weapon in grinding success faster. Encourage people to look at problems as opportunities to go to the next level.
  5. Encourage Life-long relationships: Make sure your team members have nurtured internal relationships which are going to stay alive for their remaining life. Situational leadership is good, not situational relationships.
  6. Develop tools to pre-handle conflicts: Invest in developing tools and techniques which handle conflicts even before that happen. For example, you can have a list of the causes of conflicts or invest in team-training where team members are taught how to self-handle conflicts etc.
  7. Choose leadership over bossism: Choose to be a leader over just being a boss. Reflect on what E.m Kelly said, “The difference between a boss and a leader: a boss says, ‘Go!’ while a leader says, ‘Let’s go!’.” A leader leads regardless of a title and takes accountability for what his people are doing. He leads from the front and makes optimum use of techniques like Responsibility assignment (RACI) metrics to prevent conflicts.

If prevention doesn’t work and still you find yourself in the middle of a conflict, next best thing is to systematically attack the problem, resolve it, record the lessons learned and prevent it the next time. Here’s how:

  1. Develop Problem Charter: Understand the problem very precisely. Go to the maximum possible detail level and get the clarity. Develop a problem charter which clearly states Who, What, Why, When Where and How of a problem.
  2. Develop a plan: Develop a plan which clearly states how you will perform steps to overcome a problem.  Meet the entities identified in the first step, collect other relevant information, keep alternatives ready and be ready to attack the problem.
  3. Execute: Now you have two good things. Necessary clarity about what the problem is and one or more ways about how you will act on it. So execute. Call meetings, exhibit different situational leadership styles and management practices.
  4. Evaluate the outcomes: Captivation of execution is such that the executor forgets to pause and think about how he is executing. So monitor and control your execution. If you feel that your execution needs to be altered, do that. Nothing is permanent and ‘execution’ should also not be an exception. If needs be, restart from step 2 and refine the plan.
  5. Close the problem: Once the planned outcome has come, close the problem. Make all the required people aware of the updated status of the problem and record the lessons learned.

You don’t need to always formally develop problem charter or a plan but you need to do that process mentally in order to execute effectively.

So profit from conflicts. In closing you might want to read what a Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung said:

“The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm that is not easily disturbed. It is just these intense conflicts and their conflagration which are needed to produce valuable and lasting results.”

Stop Being a Hero

When you were a child, your grandmother told you, “You’re special, you possess a unique charm; you’re like a hero!”

First, you laughed…then you started liking it and eventually started believing that you’re a hero… someone very special!

Then, after years of education, you became a software professional and got a good job with one of the top IT organization, but still, in the back of your mind, you have treasured the old image, “I’m a hero!”

That’s where the problem rests for many software teams.

Since you consider yourself a hero, you inevitably strive to reinvent everything. Right from what other team members should have done to organizational processes or what the customer should have expected instead.

Your coarse argument would be, “No one in this organization can work like me. If I were not in that team, that big problem could have never been solved.” Or “People out here do not know even 10% of what I know and I don’t think they will be able to perform the task so effectively when I am not in the team.”

Instead of being open and learning from past mistakes of colleagues or everything else around, you insist on doing everything on your own; at the cost of the client or the organization.

You spend most of your time in beautifying your own code, debugging your less experienced colleague’s code or re-creating architecture of the half-developed business application.

You need to understand that you’re not a hero. At least not at the workplace. If you become one, it is not going to give you benefits after a certain point. Reserve that narcism for your visit to your grandmother’s house.

Be less heroic. Be less special. Be more agile.  Focus more on how your team can add value. Ship early; ship often rather than investing your time in less necessary artifacts in order to build a product or a service that works. Inspect and adapt. Remember, none of us is as powerful as all of us.