Few things destroy the health of a team or workplace more than that of triangulation and poor conflict resolution practices. In too many places, rather than resolving interpersonal conflict in a healthy manner, staff make it worse by talking to others about the one they have conflict with, gossiping with their "friends" about another individual which results in alliances being formed against other staff member(s).
This is made worse when a staff member makes assumptions about another's motives and starts to see them through a negative lens no matter what they do. It is a lose lose proposition for the relationship and the greater team as the fallout spills over to others.
Unfortunately many workplaces accept this is a part of their culture but they need not do so.
Recently in working with an otherwise great organization, these issues came to the forefront and were poisoning relationships between good people. The first thing I did was to run a series of reconciliation meetings in line with my blog entitled, The Six Questions to ask in any Reconciliation Process. Not surprisingly what staff members believed to be irreconcilable differences were surprisingly easy to clear up using this process.
When I asked how each of them had contributed to making the conflict greater, the consistent answers were:
- I talked to others but not to the one I had an issue with
- I assumed poor motives of the one I had conflict with
- I created alliances with those who were my friends against the other individual
We then instituted a new policy with staff.
We are committed to the highest level of relational health in our organization. The following is our conflict resolution policy.
When there is a conflict or personal issue between staff members it is the responsibility of those who have an issue to speak directly to the staff member with whom they have an issue.
It is not permissible to talk to other staff members about issues one has with another staff member or to speak negatively about other staff members. This constitutes gossip,causes division, encourages others to take up another's offense and results in greater conflict and ill will. Violation of this policy can be grounds for dismissal.
If resolution is not found in a conversation with the staff member one has an issue with, the only individual it is permissible to speak with about that situation is one's supervisor. The supervisor will seek to find resolution between the two parties. Staff members involved will be expected to abide by the requirements of the supervisor for resolving the presenting issue(s).
If necessary, the supervisor may choose to bring a higher organizational leader into the conversation to ensure resolution.
We take great pride in a culture that is healthy to work in. This policy is designed to ensure that relational health is maintained, cultivated and issues that may arise resolved in a healthy manner.
Leaders who are proactive in laying out expectations and the consequences of violating those expectations create a much different and much healthier culture than those who do nothing.
Creating cultures of excellence