Do you feel like you’ve heard it all when it comes to managing teams? In this month’s blog, our speakers offer alternate ways of enhancing team collaboration and cohesion, including how to deal with conflict. Building high performing teams is always going to be a question of trial and error as you discover what works best for the individuals in your team, but here are some ideas to get you started.
Talk it out
Even in the best of teams, workplace conflicts are common under pressure. Here are broadcaster and confidence coach Gina London’s tips on how to deal with them. First of all, be assertive: have the confidence to speak up, but don’t alienate colleagues in the process. Don’t use extreme language or absolutes. Love and hate are divisive, while ‘never’ or ‘always’ are accusatory and probably inaccurate. Ask open-ended questions – don’t assume you’ve understood their position on something, ask for clarification, or reasons for their reaction or opinion. It may be that you share a similar outlook and this is all a misunderstanding. If not, at least you’ll get a clearer idea of what they think before calming outlining your opinion. Work together to find a solution by offering ideas yourself and asking the other person how they would like the issue to be resolved.
The Generation Game
It’s important to spot potential problems before they arise, so you can deal with them smoothly. Nigel Barlow, so-called “business rocker”, highlights the generation gap between millennials and baby-boomers as point of misunderstanding. One thing that goes out the window for millennials in the workplace, is deference to hierarchy. While baby-boomers might feel they have earned their place, millennials are a disruptive force, who think of office relations as a network rather than a pyramid. This is dynamic and can lead to change, but in order to avoid conflict, employers need to maintain the shared values of the different generations. Knowing that their work is worthwhile matters to baby-boomers and millennials alike, and feeling valued within the company is vital for workplace wellbeing. Highlighting the positive differences that each generation brings will reduce resentment, while transparency and communication will mean less resistance to change.
Millennials also value collaboration, which is where Nigel’s “garage thinking” comes into its own. Having a space for intense collaboration creates a strong team and leads to innovation. In the short term, innovation doesn’t make much sense: it’s messy, prone to failure, inefficient, and high risk. However, in the long term, innovation is vital for a successful business. Whether located in bricks and mortar, or a virtual space, garage thinking overcomes boundaries and encourages problem solving. Rather than thinking of employees as units of production, think of their collective potential for innovation. How can they, and your business, become more than the sum of their parts?
Steve Chapman, author and coach on organisational change and development, describes organisations as “improvised complex social processes… influenced through active participation”. This means that change within an organisation comes from the daily interactions of the people working there. If a company wants to be more collaborative, but the culture isn’t set up to support collaboration, then it requires individuals to be counter-cultural. The risk is transferred to the individual who sticks out, even if theoretically, more innovative and creative behaviour is being encouraged. There needs to be an openness to new ideas at the highest level, especially if those ideas are uncomfortable!
Follow the Beat
One way to become more flexible in the workplace is to listen to a choreographer. Marguerite Donlon offers workshops teaching business teams techniques and tools from the world of dance to increase cohesion and allow them to work together in a novel way. She aims to bring teams together beyond the borders of language, and teach them that being flexible doesn’t always mean compromising; it can be part of an exciting process of innovation.
Music is another powerful way of bringing teams together. Consultant and French Horn player, Ben Hines, promotes reflection, collaboration and team bonding around a business goal through music. Cutting across entrenched workplace barriers, music is an effective form of communication, enhances emotional intelligence, and can get your brain working in a new way.
For more insights on how to build and manage high performing teams, simply contact us today to discuss your audience, budget, and goals.