Executives often have deep differences of opinion over the best strategy for the company. These conflicts cripple a business as multiple strategies are being simultaneously implemented causing confusion, waste of resources and decrease of motivation. Identifying and addressing the root causes of conflicts will lead to better decisions.
Below are some examples of types of conflicts that lead to poor strategic thinking and their solutions.
Some types of people simply don’t get along with other types of people. Having two extremely competitive people together in the same room may make for great fun or it may cause a winner-take-all attitude.
When personality differences hurt the ability of the team to reach a decision and move forward, focus on strengths. Regularly remind those at the able of each other’s strengths and how these strengths complement the others. Invite everyone to suggest a method of handling personality differences and implement the best strategy.
Unclear decision-making process
Organizations that have opaque decision-making processes are likely to spark conflict and breed mistrust. To employees decisions lack consistency and direction. When the perception is that decisions are made because of personal favor instead of tactical or strategic necessity, employees can be left feeling in the dark and ignored.
For all levels of management, create a standard decision-making process in which there are clear opportunities for those involved to share their opinion. Design a process that generates and weighs options and measures ways forward against a well-defined metric that aligns with the stated strategy of the company.
Pair the decision to clear benchmarks to evaluate progress.
People may not like the decision but they can respect the process that reached it. When there is no well identified and understood process, there is no respect.
Lack of processing of competitive intelligence
Businesses rely on market signals, customer signals and general trends to create and adapt their strategies. Often businesses don’t have a comprehensive approach to collecting, analyzing and acting on competitive intelligence. When colleagues aren’t using the same methodology to gather, process and implement information, clashes of opinions can result.
Focus on creating a companywide method of incorporating competitive intelligence in all decision-making.
Lack of implementation mechanism
After executives have had a transparent discussion that includes relevant market information, have consulted with their colleagues at appropriate levels of the organization and a decision has been reached, there needs to be a clear structure to carry out the decision.
Sometimes decisions fall between the cracks of two or more departments. Other times the strategy selected requires a different operational approach or mechanism than what the company already has. This type of conflict occurs because those who made the decision assume that there is a means to implement it when it is not the case. The conflict is between the reality of the company’s operational abilities and the expectations of senior management.
To resolve this kind of conflict strategic discussions need to include those who would be directly implementing the decision.
The bottom line
When there are processes in place to encourage constructive communication much more time, more effort and energy is spent examining the data and discussing ways forward than putting out fires. To ensure that senior management doesn’t get bogged down by conflicts, clear and consistent decision-making processes at all levels of the organization are necessary.
For over 10 years, Renée Gendron has been a student of the economy and larger economic trends and the challenges they pose to leaders and entrepreneurs. Gendron works with professional associations, businesses, entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs to help them hone their conflict resolution and leadership skills. She welcomes feedback and can be reached at the following: firstname.lastname@example.org; VitaeDynamics.com; @vitaedynamics; the Vitae-Dynamics Facebook page and G+ under Renée Gendron.
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