healthy conflict

Tue 27 September 2022
Incentivizing your employees to feel free to give feedback and challenge ideas doesn’t just happen. 
Many long-standing organizations such as Kodak, Sears, and Borders have failed to adapt to the reality of today’s world and have found themselves becoming irrelevant. 
One of the reasons is that the leaders did not receive valuable information that may have helped the organization turn around. 
Many leaders find themselves in a vacuum, unwilling to receive or seek information crucial to the health of their organization. 
In today’s highly competitive, fast-moving environment, businesses need to have everyone, and their ideas, on board. It is crucial to develop an environment that promotes and encourages constant feedback and to challenge ideas at all levels. 
According to Vip Sandhir, CEO and founder of High Ground, creating a challenge culture is key to employee engagement and an organization’s growth and future.
'The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni digs deep into five interrelated issues that undermine the performance of a team all in some way. So here are the 5 dysfunctions of a team and ways we recommend to counter them.
 
●       Issue 1: Absence of Trust. Without trust, teams cannot be completely honest with each other.
 
Solution: Confidence and building a team bond. Honesty, openness, and respect are key communication attributes of a successful culture, specifically in building trust. A culture of trust can do remarkable things for an organization. 
People who trust each other are more productive, feel a higher degree of loyalty to their team and organization, and are also known to give outstanding service.
 
What does trust look like in a workplace?
-        Confidence. If you are a person your colleagues or clients can trust, that means they have confidence in you. Confidence to:
-        Make decisions or work autonomously
-        Lead
-        Advise
-        Move up or take on more responsibilities
-        Be authentic
-        Have their back!
 
Developing trust and comfort is all about teams working together intelligently to achieve better results, reduce individual stress and create a successful culture that promotes customer loyalty. It’s where teams build collaborative relationships, communicate openly, and identify strategies for moving forward, quickly and easily, as a cohesive unit to its full potential.
 
It’s built through a process of establishing good habits in effective communication at all levels.
 
 
●       Issue 2: Fear of Conflict. Without trust, teams cannot have the healthy debate that is necessary to arrive at better understanding and decisions.
 
Solution: Feedback and strengthening your team performance helps facilitate a safe environment for authentic conversation that has space for safe conflict.
 
Feedback in dysfunctional organizations comes across as confrontational, feedback in organizations with successful cultures is regular, informal, constructive, and safe.
Safety is a fundamental human need. Your team needs to know where they stand over the short and long term. One of the best ways a team leader can do this is to provide regular feedback on performance and clarify goals, especially during times of change. The trouble with feedback is that it is often heard as criticism which could counter the feeling of safety.
Start incorporating a culture where feedback is welcomed and acknowledged for the powerful fuel it is for breakthroughs in growth and development. Set up the right environment for casual, non-confrontational feedback.
 
●       Issue 3: Lack of Commitment. If a team is not aligned with a decision, then it can naturally be difficult for everyone to be behind and committed to that decision.
 
Solution: Not everyone in the team is going to agree all the time, and nor should they but they do all need space for healthy debate. A safe space where they can say “convince me” if they need to.
 
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shared his "disagree and commit" approach to healthy debate within teams in this Inc article. ‘to "disagree and commit" doesn't mean "thinking your team is wrong and missing the point," which will prevent you from offering true support. Rather, it's a genuine, sincere commitment to go the team's way, even if you disagree. 
Of course, before you reach that stage, you should be able to explain your position, and the team should reasonably weigh your concerns. But if you decide to disagree and commit, you're all in. No sabotaging the project, directly or indirectly. By trusting your team's gut, you give them room to experiment and grow, and your people gain confidence.
Having defined the right core values for your business and your team is also one of the best ways to keep your team on track and working toward commitment and your ultimate goals. 
 
●       Issue 4: Avoidance of accountability. If they are not committed to the course of action, then they are less likely to feel accountable (or hold other people accountable).
 
Solution: Follow these 5 accountability actions:
-        Giving up excuses.
-        Giving up blame.
-        Seeking Solutions.
-        Doing something. Anything!
-        Keeping score on yourself.
 
There are many roads to success, whatever form you hope that success to be, but the one action common for every single successful person, team, or organization is accountability.
Where someone has not held themselves accountable, and the other team members can call out less than optimal behaviors, actions, or a ‘dropping of the ball’; then you have true team accountability. 
 
●       Issue 5: Inattention to results. This, according to the book, is considered the ultimate dysfunction of a team and refers to the tendency of team members to care about something other than the collective goal.
 
Solution: Be inspired as a team, by your team’s mission. Being a mission-driven team will allow you and your team to bond and work together at greater levels of impact in order to achieve a common goal (your mission) together, allowing your bond as a team to strengthen. 
 
Let’s look at the value of a straight question like: Why do we come to work?
Most people when asked ‘why do you come to work?’ Will first answer “money.” But that's not the real reason why. That is not the motivation for getting up at 6:30 in the morning, rushing around, organizing kids, or ironing shirts the night before. It's because of the kids, or the house deposit they are saving for, or the next mission to help in a developing country. That's the “why.” Every person has a “why.”
That's the reason why they get out of bed every morning. And when a team is engaged in each other’s why, they then understand why they should help each other. There’s an understanding of what their teammate is working towards.
According to Ambition In Motion’s Work Orientation, some people are motivated by work/life balance, some people are motivated by growth and learning new skills, and some people are motivated by having a positive impact on the world. You can learn your Work Orientation here.
At its highest level, this is understanding each other's “why” and helping each other achieve individual goals together. Championing each other to be the best and to have the best.
When team members know why and what they are each striving for personally, and from an organizational view, they will be focused on the right results. Each person will not be focused only on their own goals; they will be working to help their colleagues meet theirs too.
 
How can the 5 Dysfunctions of a team help you?
If your team is struggling, start breaking down the issues. Take a look at the 5 dysfunctions of a team to see if you recognize anything. Then get to work on understanding what's happening for the team personally and professionally.
If you are seeking help with implementing the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team with your executive team, reach out to garrettmintz@ambition-in-motion.com to see how Ambition In Motion can help your executive team implement the methodologies taught in the book.
Thu 6 October 2022
As economies are changing, the pressure to perform as a leader has intensified. Many companies are merging teams together or raising quotas/metrics for success that are difficult to achieve.
The demanding situations and crises you face over the course of your management career are likely to be the moments that define who you are as a leader. How you act in these scenarios can impact how your employees and co-workers remember you. 
Surrounded with elements of pressure, how can you, as a manager, combat these pressures? 
Jordan Christiansen of Crucial Learning sites that it’s common for leaders to react poorly in high-stress situations. Specifically, 53 percent become more closed-minded and controlling during times of crisis, instead of open and curious. A further 43 percent become more angry and heated.
As a leading manager, learning how to control yourself and maintain a level head during challenging times will serve you well over the course of your career. But that can be easier said than done. Here are three techniques that can help you manage your team during a crisis while also keeping calm.
 
  1. Communicating effectively with employees
As a manager, there can often be an element of distance from the rest of the team. This creates one of the biggest challenges for managers: bridging the distance with effective and timely communication skills.
Good managers need to develop advanced listening and speaking skills as they play a huge role in the success of their team. “A lack of interdepartmental communications” has been found to be one of the biggest causes of stress for UK employees in 2020. This means that when a manager isn’t communicating well with their team about business matters or individual progress, not only could it be damaging the manager-employee relationship, but it could also be greatly adding to employees’ work-related stress.
 
How to overcome this:
Everyone communicates differently; some methods of communication may work well for some employees, but won’t work for others. 
The best way to overcome any communication blockers is to discover the different personality types in your team.
Conducting personality tests and tests to uncover Work Orientation[1]  is a great way to find each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, how these different personality types communicate best and what they’ll respond best to.
2. Confronting performance problems
Performance problems are always going to be a concern for any manager. But in today’s fierce business environment, if your teams aren’t performing to a high standard, a competitor could easily come in and take your business.
You need to get to the root of any problems quickly. But be careful about getting the results you need and while avoiding damaging any relationships with your team members in the process. 
If you put your “strict manager” hat on too soon, you risk damaging the trust with other members of your team too.
 
How to overcome this:
If employees don’t have clear targets and goals in place, it can be easy to fall short of what is expected.
Clearly communicate targets and outline expected results to each of your team members. This way, if any results are falling short, you’re able to tackle the problem head-on by comparing expectations to actual performance.
Make sure that you’re continuously monitoring actual performance in comparison to these set targets. You can then spot any problems early on and provide constructive feedback – helping to avoid larger issues down the line.
If performance doesn’t improve, this is the time to follow up with a clear and fair discipline process.
3. Managing conflicts within your team
In a dream world, your team works well together. They’re great collaborators, feel comfortable being creative together and get on socially. Unfortunately, this dream doesn’t always come true. And when a conflict arises between two colleagues, it can be felt throughout the team.
When conflicts aren’t resolved, they can quickly affect productivity and morale, and even lead to top performers leaving the company. Managers are tasked with nipping any conflicts in the bud early before they become bigger concerns.
 
How to overcome this:
When a conflict between team members arises, it's important that you fully understand the issue before you take any action. A conflict over an area of work can be healthy and can actually lead to more innovative thinking and solutions, but it’s your job to nurture the conflict into a productive direction.
When a conflict between colleagues is personal, you should step in before it begins to affect the working relationship and the rest of the team.
One way to navigate conflict is to remind your team of your company’s culture and values. When your company’s values are built around trust, respect, and positivity, and you hire for these values, personal conflicts based on personality should be minimized.
Communicating these expectations from the start will make the type of behavior you expect and will tolerate clear during the recruitment process. This means there’s little room for deviation in the workplace.
 
4. Creating calm and reassurance in periods of turbulence
As businesses are developing and changing, they can bring a wealth of exciting opportunities. Unfortunately, these can occasionally bring less exciting consequences too.
Today’s fast-paced business environment includes scenarios such as redundancies. These situations can cause feelings of uncertainty, confusion, and frustration among teams, which managers have the extreme difficulty job of handling.
 
How to overcome this:
If a redundancy situation arises, it’s likely that, even as a manager, you may not know all the information until any final decisions have been made.
At this time your main priority becomes reassuring your employees and openly communicating what you can.
When you keep communication open with your employees and you welcome questions, you’ll keep their trust and reduce their frustrations as much as you can.
In turn, they’ll be reassured that when you know of any updates, they’ll know of them as well.
 
5. The fight against burnout
One of the hot topics in the business world over the past year has been burnout. A recent survey by Gallup found that out of 7,500 full-time employees, 23% said they felt burnout more often than not, with an additional 44% feeling burnt out sometimes. As a manager, finding the balance between great performance and taking care of both your own and your team’s health is vitally important.
Managers that don’t take time away from work and never recharge their batteries end up burning out. Not only does this harm your own well-being and engagement, but it also sets an unrealistic example for your employees.
When managers act in this way, a culture that normalizes overworking can sweep through the office, ultimately damaging productivity and morale.
 
How to overcome this:
People are at their most productive when they’re refreshed, happy and healthy. And, no surprise, this doesn’t come from working overly long hours or taking on extreme workloads.
Set an example by taking regular breaks and using your annual leave to recharge your batteries. When you do this, you let your employees know that you want them to do the same.

Tue 28 March 2023
Managing your boss' expectations while keeping your team excited can be a challenging task, but it is essential for maintaining a productive and harmonious work environment. As a leader, you need to ensure that your team is motivated, engaged, and productive, while also meeting your boss' expectations and goals. 
Finding this balance between your boss’ expectations and your teams’ engagement often becomes more challenging in ever-changing situations. For example, a Fortune 500 company acquired a startup company in hopes of expanding their reach and innovation. 
The new team was thrilled to be a part of such a successful company, but they soon realized that the integration process was not going as smoothly as they had hoped. The leaders of the company tried several different approaches for the new team to focus on, but they kept changing the direction, leaving the startup team feeling burnt out and confused.
The first few weeks after the acquisition were exciting, as the team worked on exciting new projects and was given free reign to explore their creativity. But as time went on, the team began to feel the pressure of the constantly changing direction. They struggled to keep up with the ever-changing expectations and goals, which left them feeling drained.
As the weeks went on, the team's frustration continued to grow. They felt like they were constantly spinning their wheels, trying to keep up with the latest directive from their leaders. 
These are the 7 best practices to best help the manager of this team keep their team’s spirits high and stay on track with their new boss’ goals: 

  1. Understand Your Boss' Expectations:
The first step to managing your boss' expectations is to understand what they expect from you and your team. This requires clear communication and regular check-ins to ensure that you are on the same page. Your boss may have specific goals, timelines, or preferences that they want you to follow. Make sure you understand what is expected of you and your team, and communicate any challenges or concerns that you may have.

2. Keep Your Team Informed:
Once you have a clear understanding of your boss' expectations, it is important to communicate this information to your team. Share the goals and expectations with your team and ensure that they understand the importance of meeting them. Keep your team informed about any changes in direction or new priorities from your boss. This will help your team to stay focused and motivated, and it will also prevent any surprises that could impact their work.

3. Set Realistic Expectations:
It is important to set realistic expectations for your team that align with your boss' expectations. Don't overpromise and underdeliver. This can lead to disappointment and frustration, both from your boss and your team. Instead, set realistic goals and timelines that are achievable for your team. Work with your team to break down tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces, and set clear deadlines for each task. This will help your team to stay motivated and on track.

4. Encourage Feedback and Collaboration:
Encourage your team to provide feedback and collaborate with each other. This can help your team to stay engaged and motivated. It can also help to identify any potential issues or challenges early on, which can be addressed before they become bigger problems. Provide opportunities for your team to share their ideas and suggestions, and listen to their feedback. This will help to build trust and respect within your team, and it will also foster a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement.

5. Recognize and Celebrate Achievements:
Recognizing and celebrating achievements is a great way to keep your team excited and motivated. Celebrate when your team meets a goal or completes a project, and acknowledge their hard work and contributions. This can be as simple as a shout-out in a team meeting or as elaborate as a team outing or celebration. Recognizing your team's achievements will help to build morale and foster a positive work environment.

6. Provide Opportunities for Growth and Development:
Providing opportunities for growth and development is another great way to keep your team excited and motivated. Offer training, mentorship, or stretch assignments to help your team to develop their skills and advance their careers. This will show your team that you are invested in their success and that you value their contributions to the team. It will also help to keep your team engaged and motivated, as they work towards achieving their goals.

7. Communicate Regularly with Your Boss:
Regular communication with your boss is key to managing their expectations. Keep them informed about your team's progress, any challenges or roadblocks, and any successes or achievements. If there are any changes to the timeline or goals, communicate these changes to your boss as soon as possible. This will help to build trust and open communication between you and your boss, which is essential for maintaining a positive work environment.


All in all, managing your boss' expectations while keeping your team excited requires clear communication, realistic expectations, feedback and collaboration, recognition and celebration, opportunities for growth and development, and regular communication with your boss.
For the Fortune 500 company mentioned above, after reviewing these methods, the team manager called a meeting with the leaders of the company to discuss the challenges that the team was facing. The manager explained that while they were excited to be a part of the company, they were struggling to keep up with the changing expectations and goals.
After some discussion, the leaders of the company and the team came up with a plan to address the challenges. With a clear plan in place, the team began to feel more confident and motivated. They knew that their leaders were committed to their success and were invested in helping them achieve their goals. Over time, the team began to thrive, and their work began to make a significant impact on the company.
By working together, the leaders and the team were able to overcome the challenges they faced, and ultimately achieve success.


Fri 12 May 2023
On March 30th, 2023, Ambition in Motion hosted an executive symposium with panelists Laura Iannelli, Syriac Joswin, and Chris Mashburn. These symposiums are an effective way to network with successful executives and get to learn some of what makes them good leaders. High-level executives and thought leaders come together to discuss industry trends, share insights, and best practices, and engage in strategic discussions. The symposium typically features keynote speakers, panel discussions, and networking opportunities for attendees to connect and exchange ideas. 

The purpose of an executive symposium is to provide a platform for executives to learn from each other and gain new perspectives on the challenges and opportunities facing their industries. The symposium is usually organized around a specific theme or topic, such as emerging technologies, industry disruption, or global business trends.

During this symposium, an interesting point was brought up by Chris Mashburn.  Every month Chris and his team have a meeting involving a "mistake of the month" where everyone, especially him, shares a mistake they made. In Chris’ opinion- which was soundly endorsed by Laura and Syriac- the best companies have cultures where people can feel open to being honest and owning mistakes. Now, we’ve gone over the process of building and maintaining- a company culture that embraces mistakes, but how much is this actually used, and what else can companies use to enhance not only their culture but their public image as well? 

When a company acknowledges its mistakes openly, it can earn the appreciation of the public in several ways. First, it demonstrates honesty and transparency, which can build trust with customers and stakeholders. Second, taking steps to rectify a mistake and prevent it from happening again can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Third, openly acknowledging mistakes can lead to a strengthened brand reputation, positioning the company as a leader in its industry and a trusted partner. Finally, increased employee morale can result from a company committed to doing the right thing and creating a positive impact, which can lead to long-term benefits for the company.

One example of a company that openly acknowledges its mistakes is Buffer, a social media management platform. In 2013, Buffer suffered a major security breach that resulted in the exposure of its users' passwords. Rather than trying to sweep the incident under the rug, Buffer's CEO, Joel Gascoigne, published a detailed blog post explaining what had happened, how the company was responding, and what it was doing to prevent similar breaches in the future.

Gascoigne's transparency and accountability earned him praise from both customers and industry experts. Buffer's users appreciated the company's honesty and commitment to fixing the problem, and the incident ultimately strengthened their loyalty to the brand.

Another example is Starbucks, which famously closed all of its stores for a day in 2018 to conduct anti-bias training following an incident where two black men were arrested in one of its Philadelphia locations. In addition to the training, Starbucks issued a public apology and announced a series of policy changes to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

By acknowledging its mistake and taking swift action to address it, Starbucks demonstrated its commitment to creating a culture of inclusivity and respect for all customers. The incident prompted a national conversation about racial bias in public spaces and positioned Starbucks as a leader in the fight against discrimination.

In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to cheating on emissions tests for its diesel cars. The company's CEO, Martin Winterkorn, publicly apologized and resigned shortly after. Volkswagen also agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines and compensation to affected customers.

In 2016, Wells Fargo was fined $185 million for opening millions of fake customer accounts. The company's CEO, John Stumpf, faced intense criticism and eventually resigned. The company also launched a public apology campaign and implemented new policies and procedures to prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.

In the 1970s, Nestle faced a boycott over its marketing of baby formula in developing countries, which was found to be contributing to infant malnutrition and mortality. The company responded by introducing new marketing practices and donating millions of dollars to infant nutrition programs. Nestle also established the Nestle Infant Formula Audit Commission, which monitors the company's compliance with international marketing standards.

In 2018, Facebook faced intense criticism after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had accessed the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent. The company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, publicly apologized and testified before Congress. Facebook also launched new privacy controls and policies to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. We are also currently seeing settlements for users as a result of this.

What most of these companies have in common is that they are all massive companies that are present to this day, despite suffering from major accidents and public relations events. By acknowledging these mistakes, they were able to salvage their reputation and preserve their customers.

Mistakes happen, and that’s okay for the business, so long as they are handled appropriately. Ambition In Motion believes in this so strongly that they are hosting an Executive Symposium on How to Build a Culture of Embracing Mistakes.

If you are interested in going to the next Ambition in Motion Executive Symposium, click here! Our next event will be on Thursday, July 27th, 2023, from 5-8pm CDT. Participants will be able to enjoy hors d’oeuvres while networking with leaders, practice working through case studies with other executives, and get to learn from 3 distinguished panelists on how they have been able to effectively build a culture of embracing mistakes, and what mistakes they have made to get to the point that they are at now.

Unable to attend this event? No worries! Click here to stay updated on future events, and to see information about our previous events. For any questions regarding these symposiums, please contact garrettmintz@ambition-in-motion.com



Mon 9 October 2023
Conflicting interests are unavoidable within an organization. Although challenging, aligning conflicting interests is necessary for effective decision-making. Executives and shareholders all tend to have the common objective of company success, however, each individual may have a different set of criteria and incentives that determine what constitutes success. Recognizing these differences in interests to promote success, is important when navigating a situation in which there are many conflicting interests at hand.

Examples of conflicts that arise from parties with competing incentives include: 
  • Sales teams only receiving their commission checks once a client has been onboarded by the onboarding team and the onboarding team wanting to be thorough in the client onboarding processes. The onboarding team is incentivized to be thorough while the sales team wants to get their commission as quickly as possible. 
  • Customer success teams receiving feedback from clients in terms of what technological features need to be created to best support the client and then disseminating that information to the technology team and ask the technology team to prioritize this feedback. The tech team is incentivized to complete the tasks on their roadmap and the customer success team is incentivized to keep the client. By adding a new task on the tech team’s plate, they now have to figure out where this goes in priority order compared to their other tasks while the customer success team thinks it should be their number one priority.

Steps to approach conversations when parties have conflicting interests include: 

  1. Create a flexible strategy 
It is important to recognize personal company goals and strategies that will be used to achieve them prior to meeting with others to discuss future initiatives. This self-reflection period ensures that all ideas are articulated clearly in this environment with differing interests. After developing goals and implementation strategies,  it is important to identify areas of flexibility within these strategies. Even when plans are thoroughly suited to achieve personal goals for the company, it is likely that there will be areas that require adaptation to best incorporate the perspectives of others. 

2. Define and understand each party's interest 
Prior to or at the beginning of a meeting it is important for each party to articulate their interests. Creating this understanding early on will allow everyone to have some common ground and know why others' interests are a certain way. Certain factors may contribute to these interests, such as organizational policies, deadlines, or resources that are applicable specifically to an individual's role. Being conscious of these different parameters for other's decision-making will encourage a more empathetic environment. 

3. Develop open communication and active listening
Respectful communication is pivotal when managing conflicting viewpoints. Creating open communication will allow for clarification of ideas, voicing concerns, and considering other perspectives in order to formulate the most effective solutions. Open communication also consists of encouraging everyone to contribute. If someone hasn’t contributed much to the group discussion, invite them to share their ideas to ensure everyone is on the same page. 

During the discussion, be mindful of utilizing active listening habits. Taking notes (if appropriate), providing nonverbal cues, and maintaining eye contact is incredibly important in signaling to others that their contributions to the conversation are valued. Failure to actively listen to others may prevent them from being receptive to ideas later shared. 
 
4. Identify shared goals 
To unify a group, it is helpful to recognize what commonalities exist. Within an organization, everyone tends to have similar hopes for future success for the organization as a whole. While the methods to achieve this success may vary, articulating this common goal can help emphasize that everyone is doing their best to fulfill this shared purpose. 

5. Compromise 
Being willing to be flexible and negotiate can help to manage these differing interests. Sticking to a rigid predetermined set of demands will only lead to a stand-still. Compromising on aspects of a plan demonstrates to others that collaboration can help achieve the best possible solutions for all parties. 

Developing innovative solutions may also be a way to best fulfill everyone's needs. It may be possible that all presented solutions aren’t able to properly achieve the best outcome for the group. In that case, brainstorming and innovating can help create a brand-new plan that wouldn’t have been achievable without the input of the whole group. 

6. Finalize and implement solutions 
When determining the final solution, reiterate the conclusions made to double-check that everyone has reached a similar understanding of the future steps. Ensure that these final plans are in writing and shared with everyone involved in the conversation so they can be referred back to it. Having a finalized document with this consensus will make the implementation of the solution more efficient because it can help to ensure everyone is taking action in the appropriate manner. 

It can be incredibly difficult to manage conflict without the proper knowledge of personal conflict management habits and other strategies that are suitable for handling conflict. Incorporating conflict management instruments can help to develop optimal strategies for navigating conflicting interests. The Thomas- Kilmann Instrument is an assessment developed to determine ways to improve personal conflict management strategies. After completing the assessment, individuals will receive their evaluation of overall assertiveness and cooperation during conflict scenarios. From this placement, they will be provided with different strategies to improve their conflict-solving skills. Identifying areas of personal improvement can be difficult, so utilizing an assessment tool that is dedicated to identifying areas to develop for handling conflict can be incredibly valuable. 

Joining an Executive Mastermind Group where you can have a group of peers share their feedback on your situation and provide suggestions can be a great opportunity to best prepare to handle these situations.

Managing conflicting interests can also be utilized as an opportunity for growth. If a meeting wasn’t as productive as anticipated, it can be a time to reflect on personal negotiation skills and different approaches to improve upon communication and cooperation in later discussions. 

Aligning conflicting interests can also be achieved through more preventative measures. Building capacities to prevent conflicts of interest can work to ensure leaders are on similar pages. This can be implemented through changing metrics in which different departments are evaluated or even in-depth discussions to develop a shared framework for company growth. Implementing training activities to develop strong cooperation and strategies for compromising can also be beneficial to prevent stagnant conflicting interests going forward.  

It’s important to keep in mind that aligning interests doesn’t mean 100% agreement at all times. Oftentimes, compromising leads to outcomes that fulfill everyone's needs to an extent, but don’t fully achieve what they sought out to. Leaders need to know how to best align these conflicting interests to prevent impasse and achieve organizational success. 


Fri 26 January 2024
Everyone experiences times of nervousness and anxiety. It's human nature and, it's contagious. Many struggle to manage these feelings on their own and unmanaged anxiety can lead to rash and spontaneous decision making. Impulsive communication and decision-making will foster an internal feeling of urgency that others mirror which may spread across groups and offices creating immense stress and anxiety for all levels. 

Anxiety can stem from a variety of sources. Specifically in the workplace, anxiety can stem from: poor workplace culture, unclear expectations, too heavy of a workload, conflict with superiors, organizational changes, job insecurity, lack of control, or imposter syndrome. Additionally, managers' words and actions have a higher impact on creating or mitigating anxiety due to their hierarchical position and perceived power within an organization. Similar to the effect of stress or anxiety in an individual's personal life, workplace anxiety can cause a variety of problems such as sleep deprivation, poor work performance, body aches, or physical ailments. Within teams, managers may have a hard time identifying causes of anxiety, or worse, managers may be the cause of anxiety within a team. 

Leaders “venting,” gossiping, or complaining to their team members creates a different culture that fosters anxiety and worry for team members, usually leading to a counterproductive work environment. Once a team leader begins complaining to their teams about executive management, timelines, the work environment, or other team members, their direct reports become uncomfortable in the workplace and anxious about their performance. 

Similar to anxiety, gossip is a detriment to the work environment and is certainly contagious within the workplace. Both productive and counterproductive work cultures can foster and spread gossip across a team or office. Many feel the need to gossip to be “in the know” or to protect themselves from any potential conflicts within a group. Gossip encourages judgment, cliques, and toxic work behavior that may undermine the success, camaraderie, or expansion of teams. Moving into a psychologically safe and comfortable work environment, managers must reduce any occurrences of gossip and spreading of misinformation to create an environment that values every individual team member. 

To better understand the ripple effect of gossip and anxiety, consider Trish who is a partner at a large accounting firm. Trish has been facing struggles with the corporate office creating unreasonable timelines for completing projects and, Trish is becoming frustrated with a professional on her team, John who submits unfinished and unpolished reports. Trish is feeling anxious due to a heavy workload and a lack of support from her team. Trish decides to vent about her challenges with the corporate office to Leo, a manager in her team. Now, Leo is self-conscious about his performance and focuses on overworking and taking on extra responsibilities, eventually leading to burnout. Also after their conversation, Leo begins to lose faith in their company and has decreased organizational commitment to their firm. Throughout the next week, Leo discusses his feelings with other team members, leading to a spread of stress and anxiety in the workplace. 

As in the above example, venting and crucial conversations can lead to a spread of anxiety team-wide which exponentially grows, creating an unproductive work environment and negatively impacting the mental health, work-life balance, and personal lives of team members. If managers are feeling anxious or overworked, they should consider finding a new channel. Potential outlets may be horizontal mentorship, executive mastermind groups, or coaching opportunities that provide a safe space to share challenges. 

Horizontal mentorship enables leaders in similar positions to share issues they are facing in the workplace and creates an open environment to learn from peers in lateral workplace roles. Opening new opportunities to grow and learn in a dynamic environment catered to the specific problems faced in the workplace makes horizontal mentorship a great tool to reduce anxiety and gossip in the office. 

Executive mastermind groups serve as a peer advisory service that allows leaders to share a problem they are facing and receive feedback and advice from executive-level professionals. Through Ambition In Motions Executive Mastermind groups, leaders can find horizontal mentorship, peer advisory resources, and experiences that support individual and team learning which in turn, helps to reduce managers' stress and anxiety. 

Finally, managers may consider executive coaching opportunities to improve their team environment and mitigate causes of anxiety. Ambition In Motion offers both team and individual coaching to improve communication and productivity team-wide. In an executive coaching program, individuals are paired with an experienced coach who aids in setting SMART goals and, creating a process for collecting and analyzing measures of success for these goals. 

In working to reduce overall workplace anxiety, managers should concentrate on reducing gossip within the workplace. Gossip fosters cliques, damages professionals' reputations, erodes trust, and spreads misinformation which will eventually detriment workplace morale. Gossip in the workplace may also lead to unnecessary conflict and a decline in productivity. 

Even with understanding the implications of workplace gossip, it is still challenging for a manager to control or decrease gossip in the workplace. Managers working on decreasing gossip in the workplace should focus on leading by example. Building a cohesive team that promotes collaboration and communication will work to decrease gossip throughout a team. In having a more collaborative team, misinformation will be challenging to spread because direct reports will build a community and embrace camaraderie within the team.

Other steps to reduce gossip in the workplace may be to set clear expectations about professional behavior or to host a seminar explaining the negative effects of gossip. With clear communication, individuals will be less likely to spread misinformation. However, if a manager feels that their team needs additional guidance, they should always communicate with human resources and find out about other tools or resources available to leaders and team members for the betterment of the team.  


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