Management Success Tip #162: Get the Best From Team Conflict: Bring Out Your Inner Referee!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Conflict is challenging for most people. Yet the ability to hold different opinions and argue for them is one of the best ways to ferret out those ideas that will benefit your company, and which lack sufficient potential.

As David Burkus states: “If you team always agrees, that might suggest that people are self-censoring their ideas, or worse, not generating any new ideas at all. Research suggests that teams that forgo traditional brainstorming rules and debate over ideas as they’re presented end up with more and better ideas. As a leader, it may seem like your job is to break up fights, but don’t be afraid to act as a referee instead — allowing the fight over ideas to unfold, but making sure it stays fair and doesn’t get personal.”

There you have it! Let opposing ideas come forth, encourage the many voices on your team, and bring out your inner referee as needed. As long as a fight is fair, that no one feels you are taking sides, that you are weighing the pros and cons judiciously, and encouraging your team to do the same, not only will dynamite ideas emerge, but your team will have the satisfaction of a thorough discussion.

Yes, adopting the referee role is more demanding than simply imposing your will, but the results are well worth the effort, both in team satisfaction and solid, business-worthy ideas.


Don’t Leave Home Without It: Take Compassion to Work

Heart-shape-made-by-team-by-Ventrilock-220x178Showing compassion in the workplace has long been thought of as a “weak” or inappropriate behavior, but new studies are finding that compassion at work can often lead to stronger worker commitment to the job and increased employee engagement.

For the longest time, it was believed that feelings and emotions had no place in the workplace. We were told to “leave it at home,” with the obvious exception of happiness at the company’s success, or the displeasure managers were expected to convey over poor performance or productivity. But that has changed. It is increasingly recognized that people who are suffering or upset bring that upset to work with them and ‘sucking it up’ isn’t good for the person or the business.

Research reported by Professor Jane Dutton suggests that when people experience compassion at work–a recognition of their pain–whether they are the recipient of the compassion, the giver or just a witness to the compassion, feelings of commitment to the organization increase by all and employees feel more engaged in their work.

Of course, businesses are not meant to be “group therapy.” There’s work to be done. So how can you show compassion to an employee or co-worker going through a rough patch, without turning yourself into Dr. Phil?

Dutton suggests, “Rather than worrying about fixing someone’s pain, simply taking the time to see their pain, to inquire, to empathize and to listen without judgment, can be an act of compassion at its best.

None of Professor Dutton’s suggestions takes much time or energy. But the caring and respectful attitude toward the pain of your fellow human being can be just what’s needed to help that person get through the day, and engage with renewed commitment to their job. No Dr. Phil-ing required.Heart-shape-made-by-team-by-Ventrilock-220x178

Management Success Tip #161: Servant-Leader: Not Just a Concept, a Powerful Success Generator

Image courtesy of Ambro /

Your CEO is espousing the concept of “servant-leader” as the latest and greatest way to build a platform from which tremendous productivity and performance will soar. And indeed, the idea of “servant-leader” sounds inspiring, even awe-inspiring: “A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong… The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.”

But as you scramble to meet this quarter’s deadlines, goals and other obligations, find someplace on your desktop to park yet another project requiring immediate attention, and winnow through today’s endless emails, texts and voicemails, all you can say is “How the heck am I supposed to be a ‘servant-leader’ along with everything else on my plate?!”

One step at a time. And the first step is easy, it consists of asking yourself a few questions, such as “What are my employees happy about? What aren’t they happy about? What are their challenges? How can I better respond to those challenges?” You know more than you think you do about what works for your employees and what doesn’t. And if you’re not sure, invite anonymous comments, make it safe for employees to share their experiences – good and bad.

Then, solicit ideas about how you can respond to employee experiences: how to amp the positive, find solutions to the negative.

And there you have it. You are now a budding servant-leader. By putting your employees’ concerns front and center (serving), you make it possible for both your workers and your company to thrive (leading to success).