Team Wellness is not something you reach and when you get there, you no longer have to do the work. Wellness is a process. I wrote about Team Wellness in two blog posts; Part 1 and Part 2. Today, I am going to focus on two questions that came up during a recent Team Wellness workshop sessions.
How do I manage conflict virtually?
The basics of conflict resolution remain the same regardless of platform. In conflict resolution workshops I start with the statement, “It’s never about the other person, ever, even if it is!” The point is, checking in with yourself is the first task. Some questions to ask yourself;
- Why do I think there is a conflict?
- What evidence do I have that conflict exists?
- If the conflict is about me, then before I approach the conflict, I must identify what I really want as well as own my part in the conflict. This one is tough but accounting for yourself will make solutions easier to find and manage.
Virtually, it might be beneficial to identify what you are seeing/sensing in real-time. For example, saying “I am sensing some frustration here but I’m not sure. Does that sound right?” or “I see several people fidgeting and I worry that I’ve lost you. What can I clarify?”
If your team feels safe, these prompts should help. If you hear crickets, there may be some safety issues at play here.
Next, if there is indeed a conflict, you must identify what type of conflict it is.
- Task conflict – the what – what we are doing?
- Process conflict – the how – how are we getting the work done?
- Status conflict – the who – who is in charge or in the role of authority?
- Relationship conflict – having to do with two personalities, a past conflict, or some resentment? This one usually happens when one of the others is unaddressed for too long.
Once you have identified the conflict, what type it is and what you want, then not much changes with how you approach the conflict virtually (at least the general process). However, because it is harder to read non-verbal cues online, you may have to be more explicit about asking how the other person is doing. You will use the concept of shared meaning (some refer to it as mirroring) more often.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if your team needs a primer on conflict resolution and then we can have a live discussion about the adjustments that may be required in a virtual format.
How do I check-in with staff without them feeling like I am micromanaging?
I think there are a couple of things you can do here;
- State your intent. “I want to check in regularly with staff because I want to make sure you are well, and I am supporting you.”
- Be transparent and trustworthy. Let people know when and how often you will be checking in and the type of questions you might be asking to assure they are well and productive. Then follow through with your commitment to all your staff.
- Ask about staff preferences. Find out how each staff person prefers your check-in. Do they prefer a phone or video call? What time of day is best (or provide several options and have them chose)? How often would you prefer (also give options like twice a week, once a week, every two weeks, and they must be options to which you are willing to commit)? You do not have to be equal. Meet people where they are as long as you are not showing preferential treatment.
Another check-in you can do on the topic of micromanaging is asking yourself about each staff member;
- How capable do I think they are at doing their job right now?
- Am I providing the resources and flexibility to get the job done in this environment?
- How often do I worry that something is not being done “the right way”?
- What is my level of empathy for those having more home/work balance issues or may be experiencing direct stress around the pandemic (through their own health concerns or those of people near and dear)?
If you don’t believe people are capable or have some issues around doing work a certain way, you are more likely to be a micromanager. On the other hand, if you are worried about micromanaging, I am betting your probably not a micromanager. Most micromanagers don’t even realize they’re doing it (at least the ones I know). So, cut yourself some slack.
Are you doing your best?
In this ever-changing environment, it is more important than ever to clarify priorities and expectations. Talk about wellness directly and bring the issue of team wellness into your team conversations.
Realize that this time is stressful for everyone. The more you can look at this crazy time as an opportunity to find ways to work better virtually it can only help us further when we are back together again.
Do your best to keep growing, learn from what did not work, and record what did.
Contact me at email@example.com for a Team Wellness workshop for your team.
Here are a couple of good resources I found:
How to Manage Conflict in Virtual Teams
Virtual Micromanagement is Real and Here is How to Avoid It.