Catch Conflict Before it Kills Your Performance


Not being able to excel at having conversations about performance when there is difficulty, conflict or disagreement is one of the 6 great challenges that must be overcome to ensure a highly successful 21st century enterprise.

As we all know, prevention is better than cure. Here are 3 actions to prevent conflict, difficulty or disagreement from happening in the first place.

1) Establish a shared-view about what really matters

We live in three worlds: the world in here, the world out there, and the world we share. In here, our views are just that, out there are other people's views. In the world we share are the views we agree on.

In any successful relationship the world we share is the critical one.

Human conflict is fundamentally the result of failure to agree on the goal or failure to agree on the actions to achieve the goal.

I guarantee that today all of our troubles, personal, local, organisational, national, and international, are fundamentally based in our perceived need to hang onto the world in here, our issues with the world out there, and, our failure to focus more on the world we share.

Catch conflict before it kills your performance by spending a lot of time and energy getting a shared-view around

where you are (reality) 
where you're going (possibility) 
why you're going there (purpose) 
how you will get there (strategy) 
who will do what and when (execution) 
how you will know you are on track (milestones or lead measures) 
how you will behave along the way (values)

Shared-view makes it simple for people to own their unique piece of the strategy execution plan of your business. Shared-view must be revisited continually.

2) Ask more questions - give less answers

"You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. 
You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions." 
said Egyptian write Naguib Mahfouz

When every employee has their piece of your strategy execution puzzle as oultined above, it is simple to ask questions about how they are going in fulfilling their piece.

The Double A Technique

Ask: "How are things going?"

When you get a positive response:

Ask: "How does that make you feel?" (be quiet and pay attention)

Then say, Great, Brilliant or whatever is appropriate.

Then ask: "Any other areas I can help you with?" (be quiet and pay attention)

When you get a negative response

Ask: "What happened?" (be quiet and pay attention) Then Ask: "What do you need to do to get back on track?" (be quiet and pay attention)

Then Ask: "Is there anything I can do to help you?" (be quiet and pay attention)

Finally, Ask: "Anything else?" (be quiet and pay attention)

3) Continually share the story of your shared-view

As a leader your number one role is to maximise talent, your own and those of others. Your second major role is that of storyteller.

Continually share the story of your organisations shared-view i.e.

where you're going (possibility) 
why you're going there (purpose) 
how you will get there (strategy) 
who is doing what and when (execution) 
how you know that you are on track (milestones or lead measures) 
how you behave along the way (values)

The more you share the story of your shared-view, and the more other people do too, the greater your organisational culture and the more attractive you will be to new and current employees.

A key outcome of the above three actions is less conflict, difficulty and disagreement.

There will always be conflict, difficulty and disagreement, such is human nature. Take the above three actions and you will be better equipped to excel at conversations about performance.

When we change the conversation, we can change performance.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Ian Berry CSP 
Author of Changing What's Normal 


Ian Berry is a writer and international business speaker with unique expertise in why doing good is great for business.

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