Last week during our weekly CI (Continuous Improvement) session we started a series of discussions about some “soft skills” with our team. We will continue to work on these “soft skills’ over the coming months. Soft skills are our people skills – they cover communication, leadership, management, work ethic, teamwork, problem solving, decision making, time management, networking and conflict resolution among other things.
Our particular focus is on constructive feedback and moving from conflict to collaboration. People are often very uncomfortable in giving or receiving feedback and even more uncomfortable dealing with conflict. Many people try to avoid conflict at all cost. Unfortunately this is a vital skill set if you want to have a successful business. Importantly, the way in which you give or receive feedback or deal with conflict can lead to a positive or negative result for everyone involved and for the farm business.
What we want to achieve when dealing with a conflict or particular situation is a win win outcome. This means a win for the business, a win for the people involved on both ends. The only way you can achieve this is if you approach any discussion in a constructive and structured way.
The first step is to realise that feedback is important for personal and professional development and should be a positive experience. It is how you deliver your feedback that will determine the reaction. Feedback can be positive (reinforcing good performance) or constructive (wanting some change or improvement in performance) and both are important. Both can also result in a positive experience for both parties – a win/ win if delivered in the right way.
Our team started getting comfortable with giving and receiving feedback by role playing a scenario and working through some key steps to achieve a positive outcome.
A good simple structure that I shared with our team to follow when having a difficult conversation and trying to move from conflict to collaboration is this:
- Establish contact/ Involvement with other person
- Seek to understand the other person’s point of view
- Present your perspective on the problem and its impact on the business and team
- Discuss and agree on an appropriate action plan
- Thank and show appreciation for the other person’s effort/ contribution
Also keep the conversation as objective as possible rather than personal attack style. Asking plenty of open ended questions also helps to not victimise the person on the receiving end and helps for you to understand their position on the situation before setting out how you see things.
THINK WIN WIN – THERE ARE ALWAYS 3 VERSIONS OF THE SITUATION!
“1ST SEEK TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD”