“Software is easy but people are hard” – a Solutions Analyst at a scaling startup
Conflict is inherent to life and so it is inherent to business, too. Yet we tend to accept that the cost of conflict – tension, termination, high turnover – is simply inevitable. Or we come up with ways to avoid conflict, hoping that if we optimize for positivity or transparency, we can sidestep it completely, mainly because we have no idea how to deal with conflict when we’re faced with it ourselves.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Not if we have simple, practical tools and trained facilitators who help their colleagues navigate conflict within the workplace.
Enter Clean Communication™ – a way to focus on your business goals by addressing internal obstacles to external success. One of the fundamental pillars of Clean Communication™ is to directly address issues which are typically ignored until they demand a reaction.
In the beginning, these tools will be easier to use in a one-on-one setting, but the ultimate objective is to be able to use them in a group setting, which is when they can be really powerful.
Let’s start with the most mundane, simple example: a planning meeting. How many meetings have you attended where there’s some amount of tension that never gets addressed? We’ll work with this example to demonstrate how you have an opportunity to be proactive to reduce the pressure in the organization.
Imagine a planning meeting with six people, and one of the key people leaves early. Or maybe it’s a video conference call and they never turn their video on. Or they never say anything, and you’re wondering, what’s going on with this person?
Consider the meetings you’ve attended over the years:
What if you had a tool to address that in a way that would lead to more productive outcomes? We're going to teach you how to create a Clean Communication™ organization where that's the norm. That's the culture and that's the expectation among all employees.
While it often goes unmentioned, the reactive cost of conflict is high – and can easily reach six to seven- figure settlements. When an employee sues, you have to settle; you can’t let it go to trial because it’s such bad press. The challenge is that it’s unclear how to prioritize being proactive or generally unclear what that would look like. On the other hand, the problem with reactivity is that it’s really hard to save the relationship once you’ve arrived at this point.
Let’s look at the costs of being reactive:
A proactive clean communication protocol can lessen or eliminate these costs, which lessens the cost on the culture. As we develop and institute Clean Communication™, we’ll bring in metrics to demonstrate how it helps everyone be more effective, showing that proactive investment pays dividends. At this point, no one has been able to calculate the ROI even though everyone can feel the pain of being reactive.
Just as any organization has to keep an eye out for technical debt, we also need to keep from collecting communication debt – a history of negative interactions that lead to employees forming cliques and coalitions. When that goes unaddressed, the elephant in the room only gets bigger. We understand the hesitation; you have to know how to address it, and that takes skill, training and practice. Which is what you get with Clean Communication™.
Accountability is key to a healthy workplace, so how do you address lapses? With this process, you'll gain a shared understanding of how to create and maintain agreements that work for all parties.
Conflict is inherent to life and so it is inherent to business, too. Instead of letting things pile up, learn to share what happened and what you want in a non-reactive way, which sets the stage for collaborative problem solving.