Fix the Fear of Conflict For Good!

frustrated employees in a meeting

frustrated employees in a meeting, dealing with conflict in the workplace

In an EOS® Annual Planning session, our clients put “Fear of Conflict” and “Failure to Hold Each Other Accountable” on their Issues List. Those issues are obviously connected. Yet when it came time to solve issues, the team chose to work on just about anything but those two. They were, it turned out, afraid of the conflict they might experience if they tried to figure out why they were afraid of conflict.

This was clearly the elephant in the room, so we finally called it out and asked them to deal with it.

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Facing the Unavoidable with Uncommon Courage

business courage Recently, one of our client teams found themselves facing a difficult decision. 

They realized that two functions they’d always kept separate really belonged under one leader. Keeping them separate created unnecessary complexity, causing extensive debates about overlapping resources, workflow and priorities. Combining them would eliminate confusion, increase speed and quality, and make the company more responsive to its customers. That part was easy. 

The hard part? 

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Would This Conversation Happen in your Company?

A few years ago, one of my clients was planning to step down as CEO within a couple of years and wanted to appoint his successor from inside the company. What made this tricky was that there wasn’t a single, obvious candidate. Recognizing that whomever he chose would need some time to grow into the role, he wanted to get an early start. The first step was finding out who was interested and how the rest of the team felt about them.

Rather than bury this issue in a series of secretive one-on-one conversations, he asked his team a simple question: “Who among you is interested in becoming our next CEO?” Three hands went up. What happened next was remarkable.

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