An exercise to make conflict feel more comfortable (and less scary)
A healthy work culture requires healthy conflict. But it’s hard to have constructive disagreements if people view conflict as only an interpersonal problem. Help your team understand that there should be a certain amount of tension between different roles at work. This exercise can help: Draw a circle and divide it into wedges, one for each role. With your team, discuss: What is each job’s unique value? Which stakeholders does this role serve? What tensions does this job’s responsibilities put on other people? Write the answers inside the wedges, and then use them to talk about why different roles naturally come into conflict with each other — and why that’s OK. For example, there probably should be tension between sales and operations, because sales looks for new customer solutions while operations tries to create consistency and efficiency. Your team will start to see that the conflict they’ve viewed as interpersonal friction is actually healthy, role-based tension.
(Adapted from “An Exercise to Help Your Team Feel More Comfortable with Conflict,” by Liane Davey.)
To help your team with stress and burnout, encourage healthy habits
As a manager, it’s your job to support your team through intense work periods. The first step to take care of yourself: Eat nutritious food, exercise, get plenty of sleep and find a friend to vent to when you need it. These things aren’t luxuries — a healthy mind and body will help you lead well. When you turn your attention to your team, think about how you can be compassionate, be a source of optimism and set a good example. Show your employees that, whatever the stressful situation, you’re all in it together. Talk about how you cope with stress, and encourage people to take breaks, improve their work-life balance, and maintain a healthy attitude toward daily work and deadlines. It can also be useful to remind people why their work is important to the company and to customers. Renewing your sense of purpose is a good way to fight the drain of burnout.
(Adapted from “How to Help Your Team With Burnout When You’re Burned Out Yourself,” by Rebecca Knight.)
Planning a networking dinner is all about the details
Many professionals are intrigued by the idea of hosting a networking dinner. To make yours a success, think about the details you need to get right, starting with the venue. Cooking at home is more intimate than eating in a restaurant, but make sure you won’t be stuck in the kitchen all night. Ask guests about their dietary restrictions, and consider hiring a chef or a few servers to free you up to socialise. If you decide to use a restaurant, hold your event earlier in the week to avoid noisy crowds and consider how payment will work. Offering to buy dinner is generous but could be expensive; going Dutch can keep the evening affordable for you — but tell attendees what to expect. It’s also a good idea to send around the guest list a few days beforehand. Include everyone’s names and websites or LinkedIn profiles so that they can look each other up and prepare questions and talking points.
(Adapted from “How to Organise a Networking Dinner,” by Dorie Clark.)
Leading a big team is different from leading a small one
As your team grows in size, your leadership style needs to adapt — and you’ll probably find that it becomes more indirect. For example, on a five-person team, you can develop a close relationship with each individual; on a 30-person team, that’s nearly impossible. Since you can’t give everyone the attention they deserve, it’s important to hire or develop other leaders to manage the people you can’t. You should also accept that prioritising and delegating are the new normal. The more you look after, the more likely it is that some projects won’t be going as well as they could. Figure out where you really need to spend your time, and get used to trusting your team to handle things without your direct involvement. Some decisions will be made without your input, and tasks may be done with a method different from yours. That’s OK. A big part of managing at scale is learning to find the right balance in these types of situations.
(Adapted from “As Your Team Gets Bigger, Your Leadership Style Has to Adapt,” by Julie Zhuo.)
Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, April 15th, 2019