(With specific tips for remote teams!)
Two main causes of conflict within a team:
Whether we're talking about remote teams where everyone works from different locations (whether by design or because COVID-19 required it) or traditional office settings, conflict at work tends to stem from one of two places:
1. Substantive or task-based conflict arises when people clash over a specific goal or action. This kind of conflict is usually contained to the issue at hand and can be more straightforward to solve. For example, you as an engineer want to get to work on coding a new feature, but your product manager might want to deploy you to fixing an old bug instead, and you disagree about the right use of your time.
2. Emotional or interpersonal conflict arises when people can't get along. The root issue might be jealousy, insecurity, annoyance, or just plain incompatibility. It can be harder to solve emotional conflicts, since you're unlikely to change someone's entire personality. As an example, if you hate interacting with your fellow sales rep because she's self-obsessed and constantly gossips about the rest of the team, that's an emotional conflict that you can't sit down and cut through quickly.
Within task-based conflict, your team might struggle with:
- Competition for resources that pits people against each other
- Disagreement over strategy where there's no clear path forward
- Planning issues that reveal weaknesses in people or in processes
Within interpersonal conflict, your team might have issues with:
- Differences in behavioral styles that lead to frustration or misunderstandings
- Failure to take responsibility that leads to resentment and lack of a team attitude
And there are some causes of conflict that can be both substantive and emotional:
- Communication issues, whether they're pet peeves or structural inadequacies in how your team communicates
- Cultural issues, where your team's culture is a negative and toxic one that either allows or actively supports pettiness, bullying, or gossip
Remote teams will see all of the above kinds of conflict, but might have unique issues, too, including:
- Loss of context and communication signals. Teams that don't work face-to-face and communicate mainly over email or messaging apps miss out on the trove of information that human beings communicate through body language and facial expressions. That makes it easier for a message to be misinterpreted or someone to take offense to a perceived tone.
- No informal run-ins. If you work in the same office and get a weird vibe from a coworker, you can grab them casually in the hallway and ask them if there's anything wrong. Working remotely means you may need to be more purposeful about addressing conflict when it happens, whether that's in a team meeting or a direct message (more on those options later).
Even though interpersonal conflict can be more complicated, both kinds of conflict can be resolved. Remote teams that don't have the option to quickly pull everyone together into a room to solve a problem are at a bit of a disadvantage—but at the same time, their focus on constant communication can actually be a boon in fixing issues and making sure they don't happen again.
Exercises to resolve conflict (whether in-person or remote)
All of these exercises share a common framework, which can be summed up as "understand what the problems are, understand why they're happening, and create a plan for the future." Sometimes the plan will be to do nothing, like with some interpersonal conflicts where you can't force two people to like each other. But you need to be aware of what's going on and why if you're going to manage conflicts well. Try one of these methods:
Diagnose issues with your team.
Get into the nitty gritty. When an issue arises, make it an agenda item at the next team meeting, and have someone who isn't part of the conflict walk through a resolution process. (Since issues will happen all the time, a good practice is to have a standing "issue resolution" agenda item for every meeting and update it with whatever the biggest problem of that week is.) Start by stating the problem, then have the people involved explain what should have happened versus what did happen, why it happened, and what they'd do differently next time.
Example: Your team released a product update that was full of errors. Your manager brings it up at a team meeting and has the head developer explain what went wrong. She says that normally, a release goes through two stages of testing before being shipped, but that this time around, it only went through one, since half the team was busy doing recruiting interviews on the day the update was meant to go live and no one was around to help with the testing. Your manager and the head developer agree that next time, if they're short on resources, they'll delay release instead of pushing through an imperfect product.
Communicate productively and personally.
No blame game here. Find a direct way (face-to-face or over the phone is best) to touch base with the person you're in conflict with. Communicating productively around conflict means understanding why you are upset, communicating that using "I" statements and not blaming others, and communicating a need and a suggested resolution.
Example: You're pissed that your coworker left you off a meeting invite for a check-in with your client, so you ask him if you can do a 1:1 call. On the call, you say, "Yesterday, when you left me off of the client invite, I felt frustrated, as I didn't get a chance to present my work and build a rapport with the client. In the future, I'd appreciate it if you could double-check the invites to make sure I'm on them. I'd also like you to send a note to the client introducing me so that we can start building a relationship. Does that sound reasonable?"
Create a space for surfacing conflicts.
If your team doesn't already have one, suggest that you start a special channel for logging problems as they happen. You can ask to make it anonymous, if you're worried about retribution, or you can keep it tied to employee names. Send in issues big and small, from disagreements with management on corporate strategy to someone forgetting to send a new hire welcome email and making said new hire feel awkward on their first day.
Invest in conflict training.
So much of what flusters us at work is due to bad communication, whether our own or others'. Not everyone has been exposed to productive, positive communication techniques before (like the therapists' tips mentioned above), and investing in bringing that to your team can bring huge payouts. Look at training companies or consultants who specialize in effective communication and see if they can do a live session, whether in-person or over a videoconference, for your team.
They should cover things like:
- Keeping discussions about interpersonal conflicts relegated to behavior, not personality (saying "Sometimes you don't give people time to ask questions when you're presenting" versus "You're impatient and condescending")
- Listening actively and repeating what you understand (after someone shares their perspective, saying, "So what I am hearing is that you felt unappreciated" instead of jumping in with solutions or disagreements)
- Learning how to self-soothe when you're too upset to communicate well (asking if you can take a break before continuing and going on a walk, listening to music, or taking a few deep breaths in private)
Conflict at work isn't fun—but it doesn't have to derail you, either. It happens, and learning how to communicate productively through it will serve you well at work and beyond.
💎Want to implement change in your team or organization? Watch the video to the end to do it successfully.
📼 To implement change you need to follow certain steps. Play this video to get three top tips on how to do it the best possible way. You'll hear from Kyle Lisboa, Support Operations Manager at Esri, who shares her experience with you!
📼Why implement change? Tip #1: Identify the reason. Think about the business reason for the change. If you understand why change is needed, it helps you explain it to others. Avoid making change for change's sake and implement solutions that solve problems.
📼Plan to implement change! Tip #2: Develop a plan. Create a detailed plan to help implement the change. If you create steps and timelines, this will guide the process. It also helps others understand how you are progressing towards the implementation and what the next steps are.
To Implement Change You Need Others - Tip #3: Seek Feedback
Gather feedback from those affected before, during, and after any changes are implemented. Allowing others to provide their feedback helps to create an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels part of the solution.
📨 Are you interested in joining Esri? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Kyle Lisboa
Kyle is an experienced Strategic Operations Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry. She’s skilled in Arcgis Products, Databases, Management, Geography, and Cartography. If you are interested in a career at Esri, you can connect with her on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Esri
At Esri, they build cutting-edge geographic information system (GIS) technology that customers use to solve the world’s most complex challenges: slowing climate change, stamping out disease, designing a better city, fighting crime, and much more. Their ArcGIS software is helping communities around the globe respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by monitoring the surge, managing testing sites, aiding essential workers in finding childcare, mapping food and essentials, and keeping residents informed and safe.
Nearly 80% of workers want to work for a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, per a CNBC survey.
But how do prospective employees — and, for that matter, current ones — know whether an organization takes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) seriously?
Metrics can help.
What are DEI metrics?
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging metrics are measurements of how a company is doing against its stated DEIB goals. They help track progress, light up problems, synthesize momentum over time, prioritize investment, and allow a company and its employees to have accountability over DEIB intentions.
How can DEI metrics help my overall DEI strategy?
Creating a DEIB strategy is the first step in making your workplace more equitable. But having DEI metrics is a vital second step in ensuring that progress happens.
DEI metrics help a company actualize their strategy, live out their values, meet employee expectations, and make the workplace more fair for all employees.
10 examples of DEI metrics
1. Hiring: the diversity of your candidate pipeline.
How diverse is your applicant pool? Have your candidates self-identify and track what representation looks like in your candidate system.
2. Representation: the demographics of your current employees.
Many companies put pressure on their new hires to make up for gaps in their existing employee population — so make sure you’re benchmarking against data on what your current workforce is made up of.
3. Representation: the demographics of your leadership team.
People need to see that there is a path for success for people who look like them at your organization. What does the makeup of your board look like? Your directors? Your managers? And what does the promotion pipeline look like into those roles?
4. Representation: the demographics of your suppliers.
The money that you spend can significantly impact communities around you — so you should be measuring whether you’re doing that in a way that challenges bias and champions equitable treatment.
5. HR systems: pay equity.
Do all employees, regardless of gender or race, make the same amount of money if they’re doing the same job? If not, what’s your gender / race pay gap and how quickly are you closing it?
6. Employee experience: HR issues.
It’s important to track wins when it comes to DEIB, but it’s also vital to track times when your organization falls short. How many HR / People issues related to DEIB, including allegations of unfair treatment or bias, has your organization dealt with in the past year? What was the result of them? How quickly did issues get resolved? These metrics are key to know.
7. Employee experience: satisfaction with DEI progress.
When you send out employee satisfaction surveys, make sure you include questions on how employees perceive your current progress on DEI goals. They’re the ones most impacted by your strategy — and their opinion matters.
8. Employee engagement: participation in communication platforms.
How often do employees participate in Slack? What about by-channel participation? Looking at data on who talks to who and when can help highlight issues with inclusion or culture. Some companies are using AI-enabled text analysis tools to look for signs of frustration or for problematic language.
9. Employee participation: ERG membership.
Employee resource groups can be hugely helpful in creating community around different identities, interests, and demographics. They can also provide guidance on how to actualize your organization’s DEIB goals. (Which is part of the reason you should pay ERG leaders for their efforts, but that’s a topic for a different blog.)
10. Brand reputation: customer perception.
We’ve talked about key groups for whom DEIB metrics matter — prospective employees, current employees, leadership — but they matter to your customers, too. Whether you add a DEIB component to your existing NPS process, conduct 1:1 customer interviews, or get feedback some other way, it’s important to see whether your customer base is seeing progress on your DEIB goals, too.
Have you ever been so exhausted that you quit your job?
You may have been experiencing burnout.
Burnout is characterized by overwhelming exhaustion, detachment from your work, and a sense of ineffectiveness.
And while anyone can experience burnout, if you have ADHD, you may be more susceptible to it.
Before you get to the point where quitting feels like your only option, there are steps you can take to set healthy boundaries and start feeling more like yourself again. Read on to learn how you can recognize burnout in yourself, and what to do if you’re experiencing it!
How Does ADHD Burnout Feel?
There are some clear signs that you’re burning out, but ADHD can make the descent to burnout harder to detect. These warning signs include:
- Lack of motivation - not wanting to do the things you need to do or the things you love.
- Exhaustion - feeling overly tired both mentally and physically.
- Irritability and mental fatigue - feeling short-tempered, mean, or like you snap easily.
- Physical discomfort - body aches, low energy levels, and general pain.
- Negative outlook - the tendency to find something wrong with nearly everything.
- Emotional dysregulation - feeling weepy, sad, or unable to smile or connect with others.
Generally, burnout starts with taking on too much. Exhaustion creeps in, and you feel like every day is working against you because you are constantly overwhelmed. You may start to feel like the entire world is spinning out of control, or like no matter what you do you can’t keep up (or catch up).
If this resonates with you, you might be on the road to ADHD burnout.
Why People with ADHD Can Be More Susceptible to Burnout
So why does ADHD make some folks more susceptible to burnout? There are a few common ADHD traits that often result in behaviors correlated with burnout (taking on too much, working too long, etc.):
- Hyperfocus - ADHD is not exclusively about attention deficits. In fact, hyperfocus is the opposite – a deep, intense concentration to the point of being oblivious to your surroundings. Per WebMD, hyperfocus is a state of highly-focused attention that lasts for an extended period of time. You concentrate on something so hard that you lose track of everything else going on around you. When hyperfocus sets in at work, it can be hard to unplug or be aware of the people and environment around you.
- Time Tracking - Losing track of time is one thing, but if you find yourself losing track of hours without realizing it, that could be related to burnout. People with ADHD perceive time not as a sequence of events the way others usually do, but as a diffuse collection of events viscerally connected to the people, activities, and emotions that fill them.
- Difficulty Prioritizing - Do you take on too much and then struggle to prioritize it? When someone asks for help, does everything often go to the wayside so you can jump in? Or maybe the daunting anticipation of the tasks ahead prevents you from starting. Per ADDitude, ADHD impacts your temporal processing abilities, which can affect executive functioning.
Combating ADHD Burnout
If you think you may be suffering from ADHD burnout, there are a few ways to take back control. Here are three tips for combating ADHD burnout:
Reserve Your Yeses - Pump the brakes when you recognize the early signs of ADHD burnout. Start reserving your yeses right away. Say no, and practice not apologizing. It is okay to say, "I have a lot on my plate right now and cannot take that on. Thanks for thinking of me." Saying no is nothing to apologize for, and it should be celebrated! You are working to protect your energy above all else.
Practice Over-Estimating - If you think you could knock something out in a day, give yourself a week. Overestimate on time and allow yourself the grace to have a little more time than usual to complete projects. Slowing down when starting a new job or role will help you produce high-quality work and prevent ADHD burnout.
Drop the Mask - Be honest with your employer and friends. Let them know that although you seem to keep up internally, you struggle. Identifying ADHD burnout from the outside can be extremely difficult. Your honesty and transparency will position you to determine if your environment is supportive and inclusive.
How to Support Colleagues Dealing with ADHD Burnout
The experiences above may not resonate with you personally, but perhaps you’ve noticed other people you work with describe or experience them.
If you’re a manager, there are several ways you can support colleagues with ADHD (as well as neurodivergent employees more generally) to help prevent burnout. Ask for clarity on when they have felt the most supported at work. Discovery questions like, “how did you feel at that time?” or “how was the pace of that project?” can help you to understand their actual capacity.Download this free guide if you’re looking for more ways to support your neurodivergent coworkers. Work with your DEIB and HR team to develop new neurodivergent inclusivity standards to help you stay ahead of the ADHD burnout cycle.
💎Worried about bias in the workplace? Watch the video to the end to find out how to reduce it!
📼Avoiding bias in the workplace requires a lot of effort. Play this video to get three top tips that will help you. You'll hear from Ben Lopez, Talent Acquisition Manager for EMEA at Workiva, who shares advice on how to create a more fair, equitable environment where everyone feels welcome and has a seat at the table.
📼Acknowledging bias in the workplace is the starting point. Tip #1: Recognize Bias. Take the time to recognize your own bias. Both conscious and unconscious. And look out for bias within teams and among peers. Work together to understand how you can all avoid each of those biases that you may encounter.
📼Avoid sneaky bias in the workplace! Tip #2: Rely on a structured process. Whether it's about interviewing, promotions, or performance reviews, relying on a consistent, fair, and objective process will help guard against bias. Document the process to keep both you and your peers accountable. And when it comes to interviewing, work with your peers and other participants to define clear questions and objectives to cover with each candidate.
Reduce Bias In The Workplace By Knowing Different People - Tip #3: Widen Your Network
Don't always engage with the same people. Widen your internal network, and interact with different teams, and different departments. Get to know those with different life experiences, different academic backgrounds, and different work experiences. Understanding those who are different from us allows us to be more empathetic and create an environment where we all feel a sense of belonging.
📨 Are you interested in joining Workiva? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Ben Lopez
With a robust background in recruitment, Ben is an agile and well-networked talent acquisition leader. He’s been recruiting high-caliber talent around the globe for 15 years, spanning SaaS software, professional services, oil & gas, and healthcare across four continents. If you are interested in a career at Workiva, you can connect with Ben Lopez on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Workiva
Workiva was founded to transform the way people manage and report business data with various collaborators, data sources, documents, and spreadsheets. Today, people all over the world use their platform to seamlessly orchestrate data among their systems and applications for transparent and trusted connected reporting and compliance. At Workiva, they are innovative in everything they do—from how they build their software, to how they serve their customers, to how they treat their employees.