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  • Mike Bensi

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


Ah, the holidays. It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Perhaps your workplace includes the sounds of kids jingle belling. Everyone telling you to be of good cheer. You hear holiday greetings and see gay happy meetings. Friends coming to call.

Or, it could be that those jingle bells are just too damn loud. You walk by someone and they don't acknowledge you. Meetings are often less than pleasant or productive. If you need to solve an issue, your colleagues don't return your call. If you even called them to begin with.

Yes, the holidays. When true leadership team issues arise as a team tries to finish the year strong. And attempts to get a jump start on the new year.

It can be frustrating to look at your team and not finding your heart glowing with your team members near. It should be the most wonderful time of the year. While you may believe that you all are working towards the same thing, the reasons for conflict can be a surprise. As a leader of the team, consider what you're doing to support these areas:

Priorities. I hear leadership teams, especially CEOs, say that the company goals are clear. But often, teams lack clarity on the priorities as a company. I facilitated a meeting with a team last month asking each manager to write down their number one priority for the quarter. They then shared with the team, writing each one down on the board. They discovered two on the list that were in conflict with each other and one that could be eliminated.

Communication. Everyone communicates differently. And everyone wants a different way to be communicated to. And you wonder why there is conflict. As the team leader, it is on you to set the tone and expectations of communication. A simple way to show this is by ending every meeting asking "What did we decide? And what do we need to communicate?"

Avoidance. When conflict arises, many of us, especially managers, tend to avoid it. I hear this described as organizational silence. In one study on this topic, less than 10 percent of physicians, nurses, and clinical staff directly confronted their colleagues when they became aware of poor judgments or shortcuts. Consider the risk involved in healthcare and of not addressing organizational silence. While your company may not be saving lives, your role as a leader is to address the avoidance you're seeing in others.

Values. Everyone on your team is more than likely a good person. However, there may be gaps in the behaviors or values you need out of your team member. As a leader, work with team members to create awareness and acknowledgement in the role they play in resolving the problem.

Pay. Leadership team members are often times compensated for conflicting goals. Sales typically is compensated on new business, increased revenue. Operations is focused on on-time delivery, quality and other efficiency metrics. Incentives can help change behavior - provided you're focusing on the right behaviors to change.

Focusing on these areas won't get your team members caroling out in the snow, but you'll be less likely to be part of a scary ghost story with your team next year.


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