The Elf on the Shelf is a scout-elf who watches over children in the house while perched on a shelf. The elf provides an account of both naughty and nice behaviors. Great managers often play the role of elf.

In the working world, we can find ourselves in conflict with others. Rather than reporting to “senior management” about what is observed, great managers provide a structure that creates mutually positive results. When sharing tools that co-workers can utilize, disputes can be minimized before they escalate and cause harm to the workplace culture.

Trust Well Network encourages managers to consider “conflict” as an experience through which your teams can be made better and more resilient. Pandemic data is emerging after a year of working at home. This situation has the potential of keeping team members from “rowing in the same direction,” causing a lack of team unity. Without a physical presence, emails and texts can lead to misunderstandings among employees. By raising issues to the surface and driving resolutions, you can turn negative situations into positive ones.

Technology does not always enhance our communications in the virtual workspace. When team members cannot air their needs clearly, conflicts arise.

In response to this changing work, TWN has developed the paradigm. Feel free to use our ELPH acronym as a guide to help your employees navigate through conflicts that emerge in their remote and in-person teams.

Express your feelings.

Listen without interruption.

Proceed through options.

Heal by reaching Win-Win resolutions.

Express Your Feelings

Progress can only be made when the involved parties each express how they feel about the specific situation that is causing disharmony. As a manager, steer participants toward “I statement” and away from blaming others. In this manner, everyone involved can begin to see how their actions impact others.

Reinforce the idea that being a “team player” includes speaking up for ideas you believe in, rather than simply going along to get along. The latter approach simply leads to employee dissatisfaction, which can lead to that person being passive and not accomplishing the task, quitting, or getting fired. The net result is the same: employee attrition – which adversely affects team morale and the bottom line.

Listen Without Interruption

Often when one argues, they are not listening. Encourage taking turns as you lead the discussion, and ask questions geared at evoking one’s experience of the conflict and what is agitating. Instead of closed-ended questions that elicit “Yes” or “No” responses, ask open-ended ones that get to the heart of the conflict. Examples include: “Why is it difficult for you to follow the established procedure?”, “What is your recommendation for adjusting our approach to this issue?” and “How can we improve the process to eliminate wasted time and resources?”.

Additional questions will aid peoples’ ability to understand each other’s points of view. As a way of involving team members in the discussion who may be more reluctant to speak up, approach them with conversation starters such as:

  • What type of change in productivity do you envision ….
  • To make sure I understand, I heard you say…
  • What are the benefits you believe will occur when your team…
  • Fill us in regarding your experience with…

Proceed Through Options

With every team conflict, a variety of options exist. As a manager, present them with opportunities to have the team agree. Examples include:

  • “Let’s try it the way that John recommends, for one week. We can re-group and discuss each of your experiences and determine if this approach should be incorporated into our weekly routines.”
  • “Since our client requires that we deliver their reports every Friday, and the volume of data that has to be analyzed can be too much for Susan, let’s divide the workload between Susan and Daniel to ensure we meet deadlines and don’t overwhelm Susan in the process.”
  • “We listened to Frank and understand that our software program does not produce the required data needed for decision making about budget planning. Therefore, we will have Aisha rewrite the code and test it with the parameters Frank provided. Once the software is working properly, we’ll reintegrate its use into our budgeting process.”

Heal by Reaching Win-Win Resolutions

As a manager, you understand that the goal of working in teams is to ensure a great working culture consistently. Since people bring different experiences, emotions, and biases into their teamwork, your focus is to maintain a level of professional decorum – and even some fun & laughter – for all your team members. As you encourage employees to express their feelings, listen to colleagues without interruptions, then proceed through optional solutions, together, you will find that any rifts that begin to occur can be effectively healed.

You have the power to create win-win resolutions that leave all team members feeling respected, and as though they are part of, not only the work process but the high standard of service that you collectively provide to clients.

The ongoing benefit of this type of healing is that you root out the cause of conflict among team members. By guiding conversations, you are simultaneously providing them with tools that can be applied in ways that minimize or eliminate future conflicts simply because people are looking for collaborative solutions. The right people in the right places enhance these successful approaches.

Trust Well Network has developed our Core Motivation Analysis as a simple to use system that helps team leaders, managers, and coaches analyze any number of team members. The tool enables you to use assessment results for assembling teams. As you place people in the most appropriate roles for effective teamwork, your coaching can fill in the blanks and strengthen the effort.