Once, I had two staff members who hated each other. You might think that's harsh, but at the time, they couldn't even stand to be in the same room with each other!
I had a TOXIC workplace culture on my hands!But that wasn't the worst of it. It wasn't how they felt about each other. The worst of it was that the conflict between the two team members created a toxic work environment.
The rest of the team felt forced to take sides. They avoided dealing with issues that needed addressing because there was just too much tension in the office. The rest of the team also felt the ongoing tension, causing them not to want to work.
How did I deal with the TOXIC workplace culture?If you've ever been in that situation, you probably want to know how to deal with it. So did I! Through working with my coach and training that I took, I first learned what not to do!
3 things NOT to do with workplace conflict
All kidding aside, here is what I did learn about how to deal with conflict from my coach, the training I've taken and over the years with countless clients I've coached through conflict situations.
3 ways TO deal with conflict on your team
1) Take responsibility for your role in it
Even if you are not directly involved in the conflict, you definitely have a role in it as a leader. That role isn't to deal with the conflict head-on, smooth it over, or tell those two people to smarten up!
Your role is, however, to lead the team through the conflict.
2) Offer conflict resources
Most of us have never learned effective conflict resolution strategies, so we honestly don't know how to deal with it. As a leader who wants to create an organizational culture that is comfortable working with and resolving conflict, you'll need to teach the team how to do that.
You don't have to teach it
3) Ask what support or help they need from you
If you have team members learning a new way of addressing conflict with a peer, they may need help practicing new skills.
Practice with your team members
What if that doesn't work?
Sometimes, working through the above 3 points is not enough. When conflict continues, it can strengthen and causes the workplace culture to deteriorate. It's then that it's time to reach out for help.
In this week's episode of the podcast, I talk to HR expert Stacey Messner, and she walks us through went to reach for help and the kind of services you might get to help your nonprofit successfully deal with conflict in your team.
To hear Stacey's advice, tune in here:
Surviving to Thriving Podcast Episode # 46 - When is it time to get help to address conflict on your nonprofit team? with HR Expert Stacey Messner
For help getting through that first tough talk with confidence, read these articles:
Members of The Training Library will find additional resources here:
You don't have to know all the answers. Your job as a leader is to create the space for your team to figure it out. To do that, you start with the courage to be vulnerable.
The bottom line is... that elephant won't go away no matter how long you try to avoid it! Your job as a leader is to acknowledge the conflict, plan for dealing with it and support conflict resolution on your team!
As I walked into my office, my administrative support, Wendy, asked me a question. I turned and glared at her. Then, as I turned back and kept on walking, I answered Wendy through my teeth! I certainly didn't have the patience for her BS right now.
But....why didn't I have the patience for Wendy at this moment?
Was it because she had done something wrong?
** Possibly, but the way I handled it was all on me.
Ok, let me start by saying I do not like that word at all! If you can give me another word that we all know and understand to describe what I mean, please message me and tell me a better word. It's not merely being rude or being cranky it's more than that. And we've all been there.
I've had my fair share of staff challenges, and I bet you have too. We have staff that don't get along, stir the pot on the team, mess up with clients, neglect their paperwork, or in general, are somewhat incompetent at their job. And we need to address those issues.
How are you addressing the issues?
Instead, you probably want them to say something like, "That was a tough conversation, but I feel like she's supporting me and wants to help me out."
What gets in the way?
We are women leaders. There is a lot that can get in the way that has nothing to do with the work, the person we are dealing with, the sector or the issue at hand.
▶︎ It might, however, have to do with that time of the month.
▶︎ It might have to do with that time in our life cycle.
▶︎ It could also be that our hormones are off due to our diabetes or thyroid issues.
▶︎It might result from a lack of sleep because our toddler kept us up, we fought with our partner or dealt with night sweats half the night.
Hormones, emotions, burnout
How you respond to a challenge with your employee is less about the words you use and more about how you deliver that message. Hormones, emotions and burnout all factor in. They are all things you need to be aware of, manage and, yes, at times, workaround.
3 strategies to help you manage your reputation
1) Be mindful of your body, mind and soul
2) Be in control of your schedule so you can adjust when needed based on mood and energy levels.
3) Be honest
We respect vulnerable leaders
Most of our nonprofits are full of women, all of whom are likely going through similar emotional, hormonal and energy roller coasters. When you acknowledge where you are at, it makes you seem more human and permits others to do the same. Humour is useful in these kinds of situations if that's a strength of yours, but so is self-compassion, kindness, honesty and bravery.
For those of you in The Training Library, here are some resources you might want to check out to help you ditch the bitchiness and lead with confidence!
You are human! Don't forget that
Remember, it's not what you do as a leader that counts. It's how you do it. And you are a human being. You have emotions, hormones and a life outside of work that factor into how you lead. Don't forget to take that into account. When you do, you'll ditch survival mode and learn to thrive in both your leadership and your life!
Did you know that practicing mindfulness can make you a better leader?
You bet it can!
Mindfulness helps you to:
AND....Mindfulness helps you to be a compassionate leader:
Instead of being stiff, bristly and focused only on tasks and results, mindfulness helps you be a warm, caring, compassionate, emotionally and socially intelligent leader.
You are a caring person!!!
And let's be honest, that's who you are at your core! You are kind, caring and passionate about your work. Sometimes, we just get caught up in the mess of the day, lose contact with that part of ourselves (unmindful) and lose touch with the human side of our leadership capacity.
Mindfulness doesn't necessarily mean meditation
Now that we've confirmed, it might be a good idea to practice mindfulness; my guess is your thoughts immediately go to meditation. While that may be helpful, and I encourage you to try that, you don't have to meditate to practice mindfulness.
You don't have to live alone to do this!
But you might be saying I can't do that. I have a houseful. True. And when you sit and eat and listen to the sounds in your household, what do you hear?
You might also tune in to what you taste.
Use your senses at any moment to be mindful
Your senses are wonderful ways of bringing you present, being mindful in this moment 👃🏼👂🏻 👋🏻 👀 👅 Even during a meeting, travelling or watching tv, you can practice tuning into your senses.
As I practiced mindfulness this morning, I tasted the cinnamon in my oatmeal, the ground hazelnuts, craisins sprinkled in and the almond milk on top.
Mindfulness is being mindful of this moment...it's that "easy"
Practising mindfulness is simply just that, practising being mindful of whatever is happening around you.
Are you present or in the past or future?
Instead, most of us let our thoughts pull us back to what happened and regurgitate what went wrong. Alternately, we focus on the future and fret and worry about what is to become. To be mindful is to be in this moment, whatever is going on!
Mindfulness helps you build compassion, care and connection in your nonprofit
In this week's episode of the podcast, Elizabeth Bishop and I talk about love in your nonprofit. By love, we mean compassion, connection and caring. The problem is many of us have lost touch with that part of our leadership capacity. And it shows.
More help to build your compassion, kindness and mindfulness
To help, tune in to my conversation with Elizabeth for tons of ideas, insights and the incentive to practice mindfulness.
For more information on how to use mindfulness to maintain your composure during tough meetings, those of you in The Training Library can watch this webinar.
TRY IT: Just for a moment now, tune into your senses. Be present to this moment!
Go make the rest of your day awesome!
Have you lost your passion for your work?
We’ve been told we’ll burn ourselves out. But we are burning ourselves out by not caring, not feeling and numbing out.
In this episode, Elizabeth and I engage in a dialogue about bringing your heart back into your work!
You’ll learn strategies, mindsets and most importantly, you’ll gain the permission to once again feel the love in the workplace!
Join the membership
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.