Where there are great teams or even bad ones, there is conflict. One of the biggest struggles for small business owners to CEOs of fortune 500 companies is handling conflict.
How to handle conflict as a CEO?
Often conflict can be healthy and healthy companies win by handling it incredibly well. But in many cases conflict can become unhealthy and can spiral a company downwards. As a CEO, there are three basic rules for a healthy conflict
- Don’t call someone out in front of the entire team or group of people.
- Use the phone instead of texting.
- Don’t leave any conflict unresolved.
Praise in public, criticize in private
In my early years as an employee in several companies, I have been yelled at a couple of times in front of others. The experience is unpleasant. So if I feel bad, others will too if you call them out in front of others. If you do end up calling someone out, do apologize to the person in front of the entire team so everyone can see that you are taking accountability for your mistake. If you see some kind of conflict or someone not doing their bit, pull them off to the side for a quick five-minute meeting. These are the courageous conversations where you have healthy conflict, and you leave more unified, with a weight off your shoulders.
Texting is a great way to solve problems quickly. The greatest thing about texting is that it’s asynchronous. But when it comes to conflict, you need to stop texting. Texting or emails often fail to communicate the message and lead to confusion and misunderstanding. The moment you have any conflict with someone, pick up the phone and call the person if you can’t talk face-to-face. Crush the conflict in its tracks.
Give time but don’t let conflicts go unresolved
When you’re emotional, you’re not rational. Think of when you’ve got an email from someone that got you really pissed off. It’s easy to express your anger and write a befitting reply to please your ego. You should avoid doing that. Follow the 24-hour rule. Write a draft email instead and save it as a draft. Get a good night’s sleep and send the email after 24 hours. That way you are not in a state of emotion and aware of what you are communicating.
Another issue is dealing with managers or other people who are not good at controlling their emotions. Often you’ll see these people who often lash out at other team members and create a toxic work atmosphere. It’s hard to deal with such people, but if you don’t, you’ll end up losing a lot of valuable people in the organization. In such cases you need to talk to such people and tell them to ‘stop’ and if they don’t adhere, you need to fire them. Never, ever, allow a conflict to go unresolved.
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