In general, the best way to handle conflict is to share your expectations about how people should be working together. Then as roles reach gray areas, there is at least an understanding of how people should treat each other.
- Marketing works with the team because we share positive feedback publicly. And sometimes we reach out to clients to ask for something to share, such as thank yous for Admin Professionals Day.
- Onboarding handles all aspects of getting a client and Freedom Maker started together. Onboarding hands off the new client and Freedom Maker to the Success Manager.
- Relationship Success checks in with the Freedom Maker and client and works to set up that relationship for success.
These are rough outlines. The areas blur when a client wants an additional or replacement Freedom Maker. They usually let the Success Manager know, who then works with Onboarding Coordination.
But lately it has been getting tricky because we are small enough that the 3 of us (Success Manager, Onboarding Coordinator, and me) each get to know the Freedom Makers pretty well. Up until now, I have always chosen the top four Freedom Makers when we are screening and matching them for a client to speak with. Now, though, that could shift to either or all of us. We are currently discussing the best way to handle this, particularly as we plan for growth.
If we did not work together well, this gray area could lead to conflict as people step on each other’s toes trying to figure out who is doing what. Gray areas are going to arise in your business but defining roles in the company can lessen the chance for conflict.
Respect Lanes of Responsibility
In addition to defining roles, it is important to define responsibilities within those roles as best you can. I went through this when I had a corporate job. We had defined roles, but the new boss ignored them and would assign projects in a seemingly willy nilly way. After a few weeks, I began to wonder what my role was, because it seemed things I would normally be responsible for were being assigned to other people. I went to ask my boss what the new lanes of responsibility were. He did not seem to understand what I was saying. The worst part was that it made us inefficient, because we could not decide for ourselves who was taking on what. We had to wait for him to assign us. There were no clear lanes of responsibility and it was detrimental to the business in the end.
Define Roles/ Responsibilities in Writing Where Everyone Can See Them
Due to this past experience, I wanted things to be different at Freedom Makers. When I began the business, we would get mixed up on who was communicating what. I saw that quickly and knew I needed something to change. Even though I thought I had defined the roles, because we were doing everything via email, only I had the big picture view. If I was traveling or busy, I would lose sight and it would all fall apart. One team member would sit quiet and wait for me to get us back on track while another would jump in and try to figure out. The problem was that he did not know the process and thus everything got screwed up.
The solution was Process Street. We were able to have people stay in their lines and openly discuss who was handling what in the gray areas. This was partly due to everyone having the big picture view. Everyone can see where we are in the process for each new client.
Further, we have worked at becoming more communicative as a fully distributed team. We meet as a group every other week. At first, it was designed to be a “watercooler chat” time, but now we have an agenda and discuss topics related to new clients, new Freedom Makers, and existing clients. We also check in on our goals and hold each other accountable. These too are visible to everyone. Through these meetings, we are evolving our lanes of responsibility and gray areas.
Having clear roles is just one way to handle conflict. Some team members may not respect them. These are times when you must be a good boss and set your boundaries. If they continue to disrespect the expectations and boundaries, then you must get them off your team.
In the end, defining everyone’s role and responsibility will decrease the opportunities for conflict. The team will be stronger, therefore less opportunity for disgruntlement and confusion. Conflict can arise in any aspect of your business but creating a clearly defined organization is one step to deterring strife and chaos.