In any fast growing company, it's natural that conflict arises. It holds true at just about any company -- every type, every stage. Doesn't matter what market or size.
You'll see it happen most between functional areas. Sometimes marketing and operations will be at odds. Sometimes, it's marketing and sales, or sales and finance. Technology may want to go one direction, marketing another. Finance might lean too conservative.
It's why it's super important for your leadership team to have strong interpersonal skills and interactions. You can't rely on hiring great people alone. You also need to set the pace for solid interactions, help create and foster them. Nurture it at every turn.
We accomplish it a few ways at my company.
Decisions Are Made By A Leadership Team, Not An Individual
One person does not make the key decisions at Simple Mills. We have a leadership team that evaluates everything happening at the company.
We bring up strategic issues, things that we're worried about, things that we see affecting our teams. It's not just the CEO or the COO. Finance, Operations, Marketing, Sales - they all have a voice, and all participate in company decisions.
We Work To Build Trust With Each Other
Trust between your leadership team is of paramount importance. There needs to be confidence in each other's skills, experience. That everyone is on the same page and wants the same outcome for the company.
We get to know each other, work to build a foundation. We respect what everyone brings to the table.
We Cross The River Together
We agree on decisions and don't look back to point fingers at who first suggested the idea once a decision is made.
When sensitive topics arise, we take emails to live conversations. If it's not possible at the moment, we'll frame email dialogue as something that requires verbal discussion later.
We Recognize Conflict Is Natural - And Call It Out
It can be easy to think confrontation and conflict are negative signs. But it's a normal part of any team or company. We know it's natural, and call out the elephant in the room when we see one. We know there can be clashing viewpoints and discuss proactively.
Some of the best decisions we've made were born out of initial disagreement.
We See The Group And The Individual
You're going to have a mix of traits and temperaments in any collective of people. That blend of individuals brings a blend of experiences, backgrounds, value.
We know each other's personalities, what makes everybody tick - and we know the personality of the group. How the group operates, interacts together.
By seeing the team as individuals -- and as a whole -- we maneuver through everything better.
We Acknowledge Who Should Make The Call
Don't step on toes and don't intervene in people's teams. This is where trust and respect comes into the picture.
We go through the right channels when a decision needs to be made. We put confidence in who is tasked with making the choice and support what they decide.
We Recognize When We're Speaking Different Languages
Not everyone is going to speak the same language in your company. Different personalities value different things and have different ways of communicating.
We have made a habit of when we feel the tone of a conversation "shift" from being just a conversation to confirm we're on the same page.
Saying something as simple as "what I hear you saying is..." makes a big difference. It allows our team members to bridge gaps instead of engaging in a heated conversation.
We Meet Regularly With A Plan
The fastest way to disjoint your leadership team is to neglect it. We meet with a regular cadence and set concrete agendas for items that we need to align on. We keep side bar conversations productive and constructive; we will address issues directly as much as possible (i.e., not talking behind people's backs).
Interaction among your leadership team won't always be easy -- especially if there is pressure, a problem or a tight deadline. But if your top level can work well together, you can navigate through just about anything collectively.