When you introduce change into your workgroup, it will inevitably cause conflict. There will be differences of opinion on the current situation, the future goal and the best method or path to go from where you are now to where you need to be.
This type of conflict is healthy because it engages your team in thinking about the best way to make improvements and helps you, as the leader, get more and better ideas.
Here are three tips to manage conflict when implementing change and continuous improvement.
#1 Embrace Uncertainty
Think back to some of the changes you’ve implemented in the past. How many of them went according to the original game plan? Likely, nearly none.
The reality is that most change initiatives are going to be tweaked and adjusted as they roll out. Therefore, you as a leader shouldn’t feel the need to convey absolute certainty or to hard sell your team on the change. Embrace uncertainty by acknowledging that the change will evolve and that it’s natural and normal to have different opinions on what might work or not work.
#2 Involve Your Team
When team members feel that they’ve had an opportunity to contribute to a change, they will be much less resistant. Even if all their ideas aren’t included, they will feel that they’ve had a say. Changes that include input from end users will be perceived as being more practical and get greater buy in.
#3 Encourage Trial
There will be lots of different opinions on how to best roll out the change. Instead of trying to oversell one method over another, why not acknowledge that there are many different options and encourage trial — knowing that you’ll be tweaking and adjusting the game plan as you move forward.
Managing conflict associated with change is mostly about being flexible and not getting overly defensive as the leader.