Understanding Needs in Conflict Management

Such a simple word; almost unassuming.

All living creatures have needs but only those of humans can impact our surroundings and everything in it. Needs have and will continue to propel human evolution. It is the very same need if unchecked that will lead to our downfall. Needs create tension which is the root of all forms of motivation. People have different needs and just to put that into context, there are approximately 7.8 billion people living on our planet at the moment. That simply means that as long as we exist, so will conflict.

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Conflicts are important. They are means to understanding and growth. How you handle a conflict defines your character. People, teams and departments in the office all have different tasks and priorities. How do you prioritize whose need is more important? Well, the needs of the customers that you serve should always be priority #1. The second is open to interpretation and in my opinion, it should be the individual, team or department within the business that is the closest to the customer. These are your feelers. They have immediate access to customers needs, requirements and sentiments. They have the power to get immediate feedback from the customer on the state of your business. What you do with that feedback ensures your survivability.

I’ve worked in businesses where the sales team sells a service to the customer that cannot be delivered by the operations team. This leads to dissatisfaction and conflicts. Why does this happen? When it comes to business, it’s a dog eat dog world out there. Everyone wants the piece of the pie. The sales team cannot afford to look bad in a client meeting by saying, “We don’t offer that service” or “We don’t have that option”. So, they may end up selling something you don’t have or don’t have the capability at the moment to support/deliver. If only the sales team made it a priority to sit down with the actual people in charge of building, maintaining and deploying the product/service, wouldn’t the world be a better place?

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It’s important to have specific departments in a business. However, be careful not to confine them to silos.
Co-dependencies between departments must be identified. Employees form each department must have a sense of the people, tasks and priorities of the department that comes before and after them. Clear and transparent communication of expectations must be made. Establish a means of escalation but more importantly foster interaction between teams and departments. The bottom line is everyone is busy doing something. Are you sure you are busy with the right thing at the moment?

Conflict is natural but not so much on the solving part, so learn to
Manage Conflict as being a Leader requires you to be the mediator. 
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