Recently in an interview, a friend of mine Doug mentioned an analogy of dealing with conflict his mentor gave him: “always go head first into the storm…” This analogy is dead on. Are you a storm chaser or are the storms chasing you?
One of the least desirable functions in your organization is dealing with conflict. Here are examples I’ve faced this past year:
- A project is over budget but no one has had a conversation with the client yet on delivering the bad news
- Employees not delivering “rock star” service to our clients
- Compensation disputes
- An ever-changing scope of work within a project
- A key leader missing critical deadlines
- A vendor sending ill-advised emails to our staff
- Key team members working against each other
- An employee with a less-than professional “grooming”- (those are always fun)
- A CEO client causing disruption in a project and creating confusion for all the stakeholders
What’s normal in organizations? Employees, managers, and even owners that pass the buck, blame the client, have excuses (many that are valid but still doesn’t solve the problem), and seem to be able to bring “grey” and lack of clarity to situations that need answers and clarity. What’s normal is to run away from the storms, hand off problems, avoid accountability, and often ignore the lightning strikes that are happening all around.
What’s not normal? Be a storm-chaser.
- This doesn’t mean you seek conflict, you look where conflict exists…. where elephants are sitting in the middle of the conference room, and work for resolve in a positive, productive way
- Recognizing your client problem is not going to magically disappear, you get the right people together, have a candid conversation about what needs to be done, and get clear action items and responsibilities assigned.
- You own the problems until they’re resolved.
- You don’t take criticism, insults, and anger personally. Your identity is grounded in something that is stronger than any one person’s opinion of you. You listen and then shift to being solution oriented.
- While it’s often easy to see who’s to blame, you take the accountability and go after the storm. You’re not a martyr, you simply understand the vision and mission of your organization is worth protecting and it just needs to get done.
To be a great company, run a great project, or to stay on course with your mission/vision, you need storm chasers in your organization. You want to differentiate yourself in the workplace? Be a storm chaser.