Tough Conversations Create Stronger Teams

March 6, 2019

Addressing, not avoiding, difficult conversations is beneficial

Why is it that approximately 60% of a manager’s time is spent on Human Resource issues? A large portion of that is overseeing conflict resolution.

When speaking with veterinary teams and students it seems they are hungry for tools that will help them bring tough questions and concerns to light with their managers and veterinarians. They are also willing to offer solutions. This is the best part of being a proactive team member.

You may believe that “tiptoeing around,” avoiding conflict, will make it go away. Think again! Avoiding tough conversations will make the conflict worse. Like birth, taxes and death, conflict is an inevitable part of life.

Conflict resolution tools include:two different conversations

  • Creating a plan
  • Anticipating conflict
  • Effective one-on-ones with team members
  • Know your role in the drama (also known as self-awareness)
  • Continue to educate yourself on interpersonal skills
  • Reach out for help when necessary

Tough Conversations One-on-Ones

Giving and receiving feedback can be uncomfortable at first.

The solution: Learn good techniques and do this often so it becomes part of the practice culture.

There are many resources (for example:  courageous conversations; respond, don’t react) that can assist you in this area.

Keep in mind that it is the behavior or inadequate tasks/duties that are the focus of change, not the person.  Be sincere, attentive, and honest while working with everyone involved. Just because a process is done “differently,” it does not mean that it’s “bad or wrong.”

Always choose to listen, engage, mirror the conversation, process the information and respond in a calm manner.

Keys to successful One-On-Ones:

  • Pick a private, neutral place to discuss the problem
  • Point out the goals and the benefits of resolution – be specific
  • Focus on the issues, not the person
  • Manage your emotions – don’t get caught up in the moment
  • Ask open ended questions, allow the other person to ask questions
  • Give the person time to digest the question and respond – silence is OK
  • Listen to the circumstances of the situation – be empathetic
  • Seek first to understand; then seek to be understood (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Stephen R Covey)
  • Offer to brainstorm solutions
  • Work together to identify a common ground for the situation
  • Find ways to minimize chances of it occurring again
  • Focus on fixing the problem

Often if workplaces accept differences and encourage open dialogue, they will also offer safe environments to bring conflict to light.  This type of culture reduces the frequency for tough conversations as issues are addressed sooner.

Ultimately, when conflict resolutions occur, it creates stronger, self-managed teams. This leads to higher accountability, more empathy towards management decisions and empowerment to make a difference.

3 members of CATALYST VetPCYours in Team Management,