Conflict in a team can be so frustrating for a Second Stage company. You want to focus on the work at hand, but you and your team can’t get started – or keep getting sidetracked – because you’re not working together.
There can be several reasons for team conflict. Often people look at the personalities involved, or the level of emotional intelligence, or “teamwork” – and it makes sense to look at all of those. An area many people don’t explore, though, is strategy.
Often times conflict arises from a poor or unclear strategy.
Conflict happens “when you don’t live up to my expectations.” And that happens much more often when (1) the strategy isn’t clear, because then there are no common expectations and everyone just uses their own, or (2) the strategy isn’t good, because that puts more pressure on everyone, and pressure makes it hard for everyone to work outside of their comfort zone.
Team-building exercises have their place. But if there is conflict in your team, you may have deeper work to do than just team-building. If you think that’s the case, schedule a strategic planning session, hire a strategy consultant, or lead your team through the strategic assessment workshop we offer in our Stage 2 Insight program.
I hear it all the time: “When we were a start-up, everyone on the team went beyond their job and made sure we were successful as a business. It’s why we made it to where we are. But now that we’ve become a Second Stage company, most of our new hires aren’t that way – they’re just doing their job. It is so frustrating.”
There can be several reasons why this happens – you may not be managing your hiring process effectively, or you may need to manage your staff’s performance better. And your compensation program is probably broken.
But it’s your strategic planning that provides an important foundation for all of those other operational issues to be solved, and to have employees act like owners in your small business.
In Stage 1, the CEO has the unique responsibility and ability to provide the vision for the business, and is able to quickly make the strategic “judgment calls” that make a business successful during start-up.
In Stage 2, though, it’s the team – the company as a whole – that needs to create the vision for where the business is going, and it’s the Second Stage CEO’s job to lead the team in creating that vision. The CEO should ask great questions, and let the team come to the answers.
I worked last year with a company that had been struggling for several years to get employees to take ownership. They had created a vision for the future, and told the rest of the team, and the team had never “made it their own.”
I worked with the team to create a vision. The CEO played a strong leadership role in that process, providing perspective but not answers. The vision was 95% what the CEO had in his mind, but it was now the team’s vision, not his own, and the company was able to use that foundation to grow the business and reduce operational and inter-personal headaches.
So, if you want to have employees act like owners, ask strategic questions, and guide them in answering them. That’s why we’ve set up our Stage 2 Insight management training program and free Stage 2 Secrets teleseminars for the whole team to participate – for them to take ownership, they need to understand the issues.
In a recent post, Jay Goltz wrote on his New York Times small business blog, “If you are quick to say ‘everyone makes mistakes’ without analyzing whether a particular mistake could have been avoided, you are sure to have plenty of them. “
I talked about the form of strategic planning for your small business in my last post. Let’s take a look at one part of the content of that planning here.
When I get my clients into a planning rhythm, then most of those strategy meetings can start to have the same general agenda. And I like that agenda to start with a look back.
The look back accomplishes several things that are useful to setting the stage for looking ahead. It celebrates successes in areas that should get continued attention (the good parts of the business). It identifies areas that are getting attention because of problems (the bad parts of the business). And it captures learning so the whole leadership team can benefit from converting mistakes into wisdom.
As Goltz says, analyzing mistakes is important to future success, and your Stage 2 business should be including look back in your strategic planning meetings.
We look at the agenda for strategic planning meetings in more detail in our free Stage 2 Secrets educational teleseminar on planning.