As we've grown as an Agency, working within a team can be stressful when conflicting personalities and varying priorities contribute to team dynamics. Studies show that 64% of American adults suffer from work-related stress. With job pressure being a top cause of stress, it is easy for tension and conflict to arise between yourself and a team member. These issues result in a strain that distracts you from focusing on your team and company goals - and can cause rifts in the understanding of your ability to produce for the bigger vision or your organization.
We use a tool called the Birkman that helps us identify what the healthiest modes of operation are for each team member, and clarifies exactly what needs to happen to achieve optimum results.
Let's review common problems that often occur within a team and some ways to combat conflict so you as a leader can focus on what really matters.
Workplace conflict between colleagues can be detrimental to the work environment. According to Deloitte, 52% of employees feel stressed because of conflict in the workplace. This data means that more than half of the workforce in the US is distracted and inhibited from focusing on work due to workplace conflict. As your business continually grows towards more collaboration and open-concept workspaces, those not involved in a conflict are more aware of issues happening around them - and this creates a heightened level of stress for the whole team.
When you encounter these team dynamics, it helps to know that personality differences are natural and focus on productive ways to work past them.
Poor communication is commonplace at work. According to The Economist, 52% of individuals think that the most significant consequence of poor communication is an increase in stress. Different work and communication styles can slow down performance when messages are read with unintended, or intended, meanings. If employees working together don't align on strategy, they will find themselves clashing on little things that don't matter.
It's important to use techniques to ensure you and your team members are operating under the same guidelines and priorities. One way to do this is to meet and align goals before a project, or on general day-to-day tasks. Having priorities written down will be a beneficial solution to look back on if things get off track down the road.
Lack of Clarity
The Economist has told us that 34% of individuals received unclear instructions from their direct supervisor, resulting in 44% of team members unable to complete projects or tasks. To ensure you have the clarity to stay productive, it helps to know how your ideal work environment looks.
This can be fixed by both the manager and the employee. Managers often need to slow down, respond with the details that they know are pertinent to the employee, and clearly define what success looks like. While employees need simply to have clear guidelines on what they know they need to ask to really get what they need to be successful in their role.
Truly this is a team approach and requires both sides to fully invest.
The American Institute of Stress reports that 46% of individuals feel stress due to workload. It's possible you experienced a team member not carrying their weight. This perception, too, can be misunderstood differences in work style. You may think your team member or employee is unproductive when in reality they work differently than you and offer different value. This is a great thing and should be celebrated!
As a leader on your team, take the time to understand the benefits of different work styles to help stop miscommunication and bad feelings among the team. When you know how you prefer to work and understand your strengths, you can look for ways to magnify the areas where you excel. Both collaborators and individual contributors alike can produce significant results that benefit the team. Taking the time to understand these types of personality differences helps remove the toxicity of misperceptions on the team.
In the western world, in particular, employees are most likely to see personality clashes as a source of workplace conflict. Wouldn't it be great if you could know in advance what potential issues you may encounter in the workplace? Personality assessments, like The Birkman Method, can help you identify your preferences when working with others, as well as provide solutions for the issues that may arise.
Maximize Your Performance with Our Four-Step Solution
No matter which of these conflict categories are the cause of your stress, the steps below are the key to positive workplace relationships.
- Self-awareness. Identify your stress triggers. Become the leader that you know you need to be by being more self-aware of your own psychological health.
- Others awareness. When you are more aware that different mindsets exist, you'll see other viewpoints to maintain positive relationships with your coworkers. While you may be different, and at times oppositional, each of your viewpoints are valid and beneficial in different ways.
- Open conversation. Be honest about your stress by having open conversations. High-performing teams need psychological safety to innovate and thrive. According to Harvard Business Review, this environment helps us become more open-minded, resilient, motivated, and persistent to cultivate a healthier work environment. A safe place to explore opinions and preferences will allow each person to open up more, resulting in more well-rounded problem-solving and productivity while reducing misperception.
- Create an action plan. Create a safe language between you and your team to combat different communication styles. The Economist reports that 42% of individuals believed that different communication styles were the most frequently cited cause of miscommunication.
How Birkman Can Help Manage Conflict and Stress
The following are three examples of personalized Birkman reports that help you manage your workplace stress: Relational Disrupters Report, Coaching Page, and Stress Management Report. We've provided quick summaries of each, so you can understand what is most beneficial to meet your needs:
1. Relational Disrupters: This report helps you identify areas of potential interpersonal conflict, provides insights into how others may perceive you, and tailored strategies for conflict management
2. Coaching Page: This report helps clarify how you handle task-related assignments, work with others, and provides insight into what you need from your work environment
3. Stress Management: This report helps you identify your stress triggers, offers strategies to manage stress and helps build stress resilience.
To hear more about the Birkman, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us on our agency page. We'd love to share and find a way to work with you!
This article was adapted from another resource. To read the original article, we used the Birkman for inspiration along with training all of our team on the many facets of how it will improve performance and health: https://blog.birkman.com/team-conflict-and-stress