Summary: When teams divide into “for” and “against” camps, work suffers. Here is a suggestion to have team collaboration and more productivity.
Without collaboration there is limited creativity and lower productivity.
Dear Dr. Sylvia,
The past months have been like living in an extra awful, super-hot hell. I know I shouldn’t complain because my staff is physically well, and so am I.
Emotionally, that’s another story. There is no collaboration and gossip is looming large.
And it all boils down to one woman who is causing so much division that we are now team red and team blue (actually, I think I better pick other colors, like team green and team purple).
There is Team Green, that is Suzie’s team. And Team Purple, that is Dan’s team.
There is a split right down the middle. There are 10 cheering for Suzie and 10 cheering for Dan.
That makes me the leader of the group, the deciding vote.
The problem is that no real work is happening. The upset is a diversion and all tongues are wagging late into the night.
Now I know that team development is important for better colaboration. I also know that I need leadership skills now more than ever.
However, I feel stuck.
This makes me super tired.
I don’t see any end to this on-going nastiness and no route to conflict resolution. Team collaboration is down the tubes.
There is a meeting with Green Suzie and Purple Dan tomorrow.
When will this ever end?
Without collaboration conflict will rise.
We are all experiencing lots of stress as our work life is changing.
Everyone is on edge with no clear sense of when the confusion in our world will settle down.
Since I don’t have many details about what your teams are fighting about, let me dig down to what I usually see when there are opposing camps and no signs of listening to each other.
Stress goes up, and logic goes down.
Stress and conflict destroy team collaboration with dire results.
Our internal Stress Monsters take charge, and it becomes all about winners and losers, not about doing the right thing.
Firstly, you want to help diminish excessive stress. Therefore check out my book “Invisible Stress (It’s not what you think).”
When stress is high, loyalty shows up as a rigid, unbending way of responding. Then arguments and drama, shrill or silent, sabotage relationships and work effectiveness. Individuals dig in and won’t move, won’t see the other side, won’t make room for change.
Debate rather than dialogue is the name of the game. Talk becomes overheated (thus, you are right about living in a super-hot hell).
Therefore, I suggest a pivot.
Before you shake your head that I’m just another leadership expert sitting in front of a computer with no real wounds from being in the trenches, please keep reading.
I’ve been where you are. Just not during the worst pandemic of the present time.
Colloboration begins by first knowing each other as individuals.
I also believe that once you can take a few minutes and talk about something other than the tensions at work, you may get a whole new perspective. And guess what, you may also help Suzie and Dan gain a new way of looking at the present situation.
When you talk with them tomorrow, please don’t start with the tensions at work. Instead, start with how they are dealing with daily demands at home or in the community. All three of you need to engage on a level that will show your human connection more efficiently.
Start with creating a new emotional connection, and then you can go to the work issues.
Collaboration begins with a genuine question, “How are you?”
Whenever a situation requires tough talk, it starts with “How are you doing?” The results have always been better. This way to begin indicates a genuine desire to know the person, not just the present case.
You, as the leader, are the one to point the direction that will be more helpful. I know you want to find a way to handle the conflict between the two teams quickly.
Here’s some advice from my book “Don’t Bring It To Work”:
“At times everyone feels discouraged or displeased with what
happens at work. Often fear of speaking about personal
situations is “whimpy.” In many workplaces the
stiff upper lip” philosophy is the way to go. When there is
room to talk truly about how you feel and can express
yourself honestly, what develops is the capacity to “see it,
say it, and let it go.”
To sum up, use this “see it, say it and let it go” mindset to be part of your discussion with Green and Purple. Let me know what progress you make as you create a safe environment for your two captains to find a new level of positive personal interaction.
To your success,
PS. Interested in getting my book Don’t Bring It To Work? Head over here and get your copy.