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Strife in the Workplace

With the craziness of our world right now, it is no wonder that strife and discord arise in the workplace, as well as in other aspects of our lives.

Strife causes inefficiency and reduces productivity - both bad things, especially in an environment where some organizations have less staff than before COVID-19.

In order to address strife appropriately, it is important to understand what prompts it: selfishness, pride, and self-sufficiency.

These are at the foundation of our greatest trials and discords.

Let’s be honest, these don’t only exist in the team “out there” and away from us.

They exist in us leaders, too.

So how does a leader work through strife in the workplace? Here are three steps that will help reduce discord:

  1. Look outward: Selfishness comes from looking inward. To counter this, leaders must prompt everyone on the team to look outward on a consistent basis. Ways to do this include picking a “thank you group/person” every quarter, month, or insert desired timeline here. Select a group/individual not on your team who made work enjoyable, or who worked hard to help reach a deadline, or gave a great idea to help streamline a process, etc. Then have everyone on the team sign a card and have a designated person drop off bagels, donuts, or send them lunch one day (during COVID-19 days, there are online cards that groups can sign and food can be provided via food delivery apps). There are many other ways to reach outside your area during COVID-19, such as seeing if your organization has an emergency fund for employees and then collect recycling to donate the proceeds as a group, have a bake sale and purchase food for a neighbor who is struggling, and so much more. Brainstorm how the team desires to reach out and the results will bring the team together.

  2. Practice humility: Many have heard the phrase, “Pride goes before destruction,” and there is truth to that. The destruction may not happen immediately, but it is a guaranteed outcome of pride. Ways to combat pride include (1) seeking out a mentor who will be honest and kind in helping you shape your thought processes, (2) set up one-on-one meetings with everyone on your team on a consistent basis to build a relationship that will allow honest feedback, and (3) include reading into your daily routine. One way to know you don’t have everything together and don’t really have a reason to be prideful is to realize how much you don’t know, and you can learn this by reading.

  3. Delegate: The issue with self-sufficiency is that you believe you are the end all to getting anything done right. The reality is that is never true. You may be excellent in certain areas, but never in all areas. A leader who does not recognize their insufficiencies is not a leader, but a bottleneck and dictator. The way to avoid being a bottleneck and dictator is to delegate to your quality team that you took time and energy to interview, hire, and train. This hurtful attitude can also arise with individuals on your team - encourage group activities that require teammates to appreciate the knowledge and capabilities of their colleagues. An example of this is to encourage building relationships outside of the team through monthly meetings with contacts “outside.” This can be done by two to three employees who reach out to contacts and ask how things are going, what is enjoyable, and what isn’t enjoyable. Then they bring it back to the leadership team and recommend next steps.

There are many ways to address strife in the workplace - the most important point is that you address it today.

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