Power and conflict

“‘Leadership is difficult.’ Inherent in any leadership challenge is stress. Stress comes from the environment, interpersonal conflict, the nature or amount of work, or simply the uncertain of what lies ahead.” (Shankman, Allen, & Haber Curran, 2015). Best teams can fall apart easily, due to conflict, if the conflict is not handled properly (Kraemer, 2015). Thus, when a conflict breaks, there are five strategies that people could use: forcing, accommodating, avoiding, compromising and collaborative; but usually, people tend to gravitate towards one or two of them (Williams, n.d.).

Kraemer (2015), illustrates the example of Campbell Soup, a company that recruited and grew in size with employees that were not aligned with the company’s values, and eventually, these people got promoted. These newly promoted ill-fitted employees were unequipped to create the best teams, and a few bad apples and negative influences almost destroyed the company, because of their concentration on short-term goals rather than long-term goals by increasing the price of their products above the value of private-labeled store brands. The CEO had a lot of changes to make to turn that company around and with change brings conflict. Williams (n.d.), illustrates an example of a conflict where Shaun Williams didn’t handle conflict appropriately, used physical forcing during a football game, which got his team penalized heavily, cost the team the game, and ended the team’s season. However, constructive conflict and trust are needed to openly and honestly have engaging relationships (Cashman, 2010).

So, I do not avoid conflict; I tend to embrace it by either compromising or being collaborative. I am more compromising if I am not so invested in the final result, but the other person or team is. I am more collaborative, learning about what the other person needs and wants are, building relationships, and forge a solution that is bigger (win-win) than if I were to use any of the other four strategies (win-lose or lose-lose). I had witnessed true collaboration, where my team built up a solution when there was a seed of a solution and combined other aspects of another solution that was brought in by another teammate.

I tend to be more compromising than I am collaborative, given my ADHD. I rarely get attached to a solution that would be worth it enough to keep the most conflict moving forward unless it is a constructive conflict. A constructive conflict helps build a better solution than prolong destructive conflict because constructive conflict focuses on engaging open and honest conflicts and building upon our relationships (Cashman, 2010). When I am seeking collaboration, I try to find a solution that stays true to both solutions or a solution that meets both of our goals, needs, and wants.

However, if a conflict quickly becomes destructive, I tend to separate myself from the situation, to allow my emotions first to subside and give both parties a chance to breathe and see the conflict with fresh eyes. At the point that there is a prolonged destructive conflict, I tend to re-evaluate if it is worth to keep up the conflict or to maintain the relationship (usually the relationship wins as long as it doesn’t violate my personal values). I have a tendency to avoid prolonged destructive conflict.

Resources:

  • Cashman, K. (2010) Leadership from the inside out: Becoming a leader for life. (2nd ed.). San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler Publishing, Inc.
  • Shankman, M. L., Allen, S. J., Haber-Curran, P. (2015-01-26). Emotionally Intelligent Leadership: A Guide for Students, (2nd ed.).
  • Kraemer, H. M. J. (2015). Becoming the best. (1st ed.). New Jersey, Wiley.
  • Williams, S. (n.d.). Conflict management – Style and strategy. Retrieved from http://www.wright.edu/~scott.williams/LeaderLetter/conflict.htm
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Social media technologies and employee collaboration

Social technologies can help drive tangible value for the company through: product development, knowledge sharing, increasing collaboration, operations and distribution, marketing and sales, customer service, business support, reduction in travel expenditures, reduction in costs, reduction in time it takes to complete a project, etc. (Li, 2010; Vellmure, n.d.; Wollan, Smith, & Zhou, 2010). Thus, if employee collaboration increases through social technologies, it would help drive tangible value to the company making it an important part of any future business strategy.

Employee collaboration does not automatically increase within the organization when social technologies are set up because each employee has a different work style, ethic, values, and set of beliefs (Wollan et al., 2010).  The organization must change the culture to embrace social technology, by having social technology champions to help bring the resisters into the fold (Li, 2010; Wollan et al., 2010).  Wollan et al. (2010), suggested three techniques close the gap between resistors and advocates of social technology:

  • Building a rapid knowledge sharing toolkit on the social technology, because it is critical for all employees to learn what they need to about a project or on a specific topic in the context of the company. It should be an easy tool, where information and people can be found quite effortlessly.
  • Set standards and requirements to encourage the social technology’s use through annual performance reviews of each employee and having feedback loops to help improve the social technology and its content. Restructuring how rewards and incentives around metrics are key.
  • Change initiatives are most successful when middle management is involved and become sponsors and advocates for social technology tools. So, who do we pick to be social technology champions in the company to help out middle managers? Usually, it would be highly motivated employees regardless of their status in the company.

As the second technique suggests, an example of some of measuring employee engagement in social technology metrics could be word of mouth scores, resolution scores, frequency and value of support, the size of the employees’ network, productivity scores, etc. (Li, 2010; Wollan et al., 2010).

Li (2010), states that there will always be a naysayer to change and one of the toughest reasons that they would give would be that the change is “too risky.” However, that is why the role of the champion is needed, to help change this mentality of social technology being “too risky” (Li, 2010; Wollan et al., 2010).  This mentality stems from they either not trusting people enough and if that is the case encourage the naysayer by talking about building a sandbox version of the technology before full deployment (Li, 2010).

Finally, Wollan et al. (2010) suggested that the best social technologies to introduce to a company to increase collaboration and engagement among employees are a desktop technology with an implementation plan on how to make it an enterprise-wide knowledge repository.  Subsequently, the social technology should be easily implemented, searchable, accessible, and usable.  This is because people do not have enough time in the world to make their normal statement of work along with learning some new complicated piece of technology they are resistant to learn in the first place.

References