Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The 1 critical element missing from Leadership Training

When I was 28, I was beside myself with excitement when I learned I was being promoted to my first Account Management position. It was everything I had worked hard for, and I was determined to be the best Account Manager possible. My company's leadership training program addressed many critical elements, like understanding my new role and what my responsibilities would include, communicating expectations clearly and delegating responsibilities. 
However, my training didn't include any learnings on how to deal with conflict and with resistance. It turned out to be the critical missing element, leaving me unprepared for a challenge I would soon face...
In my early days in the new position everything went well, and I was thrilled to see my clients and account team members respond to my actions. However, the honeymoon ended quickly when one of my biggest clients started arguing with me in a crucial meeting and was causing conflict about a contractual error. 
I was so confused. I did not know how to deal with the situation, and it escalated with my client leaving the meeting and myself on the verge of tears.

The reality of conflict
According to a global study an overwhelming majority of employees at all levels (85 percent) experience conflict to some degree. The research also found that employees spent more than 2.8 hours per week involved with conflict. (!) 
This is an enormous financial cost to organizations whose managers lack training in dealing with conflict and those companies who understand the value of training on conflict resolution have a competitive advantage. An advantage I didn't have at 28 years old.

Tips for managing conflict in the workplace
Conflict in the workplace is a given. Bring people together, and you will find differences of opinion, perspectives, and personalities. And to manage conflict, you need to understand your own response to the objection, or person's behavior, or situation. You need to learn how to diagnose a situation and drive it to resolution and, how to manage the conflict and turn it around.
Sound impossible? It's not. Here are a few tips for dealing with conflict:
1. Use empathy statements to show you hear them.
2. Drop your agenda and go into open question mode. (Who? Why? What? When? How?) 
3. Overwhelmed? Suggest taking a break, before resuming. 
4. Ask the person how they feel about your solution.
Need more help?
Our 'Conflict Resolution' and 'Dealing with Difficult Conversations' workshops offer hands on practical advice and scenario based practice opportunities to help manage diverse personalities, conflict, and challenging conversations.

And my client? After developing my own conflict resolution skills I was able to reconnect and rebuild the relationship. We managed to clear the air and get issues out of the way effectively. Twelve months later they placed their biggest order ever.