A few decades ago, people were complacent to work for the same company their whole lives before they retired. People today want to enjoy working for and believe in, the company they work for, or they are likely to quit!
Leaders must create a conducive atmosphere to foster the type of work environment where people like to work. However, tensions and anxieties have increased due to the current political divide, polarized social ideology, and racial inequity discussions at work. This has amplified stress between coworkers and caused many people to voluntarily walk away from their employers. So, what do you do to proactively create a culture that constructively deals with conflict to retain more people?
Here are 5 tips to proactively create a culture of conflict resolution to retain people:
- Create connections. With many people working remotely or with hybrid schedules they may be feeling isolated or disconnected from the team. Even those working side-by-side in the same building may not feel like they can relate to each other. Leaders need to look for ways to kindle the “team spirit”. Using team-building activities will help people to better relate with each other and understand commonalities they may share. Leaders can also promote inclusion and celebrate uniqueness by spotlighting different team members each month so everyone can get to know them better, with the side benefit of helping the spotlighted person feel more appreciated.
- Be proactive. Creating a culture that allows people to have different opinions and beliefs without “hating” each other is what diversity is all about. Successful organizations know that diverse opinions and perspectives when facing challenges and innovating products and processes gives them a strategic advantage. The challenge is to create phycological safety within the team so that these differences are accepted. Leaders must do this proactively to prevent the team from becoming toxic to each other. Create “rules of engagement” that the team must abide by when having conversations with each other. These may be as simple as common courtesies (that are no longer so common), such as saying “please” and “thank you” when asking for help.
- Encourage team problem-solving. Conflict can arise when trying to address problems. Teams should come together to solve problems and create buying for the change needed. The challenge is finding the most productive way to bring together team members with diverse views and backgrounds, maximize their collective expertise, and arrive at decisions that the entire team supports. Leaders should use critical thinking collaboration tools such as the 4 step root cause analysis process, interrelationship diagrams, green light/red light thinking, and research. This type of “meeting of the minds” can help people to feel more connected, valued, and loyal to the team.
- Embrace new ideas and seek to understand differences. Harboring resentment because people think, feel, act, or look different from you is unhealthy. Leaders should promote inclusion by giving everyone a voice during team meetings and encouraging constructive dissent. Get the team used to discussing different points of view on projects, processes, and innovation. Ask lots of questions with the intent to honestly understand each person’s point of view before ever responding. If you disagree, never start with “you’re wrong” instead begin with the evidence and what the evidence shows, as far as what you believe the course of action should be. Foster diverse thinking where every voice is welcome, heard, and respected. This type of respectful debate will model the behavior you want the team to use when they are with each other.
- Build on team success. As the team comes together using the above techniques it is essential to build on their success through reinforcement and recognition. Leaders should recognize individuals as well as the whole team when they work together, give discretionary effort, or accomplish team goals. Recognition that is specific and genuine will bolster positive behavior. Simply saying, “good job” may come off as insincere. It should sound more like, “I really appreciate the way Jim and Katie worked together to solve the quality issue on the XYZ project. This type of effort has allowed us to meet both the customer’s quality and delivery deadlines. Your teamwork is an example to us all.” The leader can decide whether the recognition should be given in public or private. Too much recognition of the same people can have the opposite effect and cause animosity. Leaders should “spread the love” and recognize each team member for their unique contributions.
When organizations address the root cause of employee attrition, which more often than not is the culture, they can proactively address the issue. Using the 5 tips above will help your team develop more resilience, camaraderie, and loyalty. This enhanced team culture will in turn help retain more employees, reduce stress, and allow for a healthier work-life for all employees.
Interested in learning more, attend out complimentary webinar on “Retention Strategies for Leaders” on August 25, 2022 at 9 AM.