By: Morgan E. Goronkin
My name is Morgan Goronkin. I am a student at the University of Minnesota and also the HR Manager for the school newspaper. I am sure that you noticed the last name; Joleen Goronkin is my step-mom and the President of People and Performance Strategies. Her Company does a lot of leadership training and I have actually gone through a class or two. We have very similar DiSC personality styles too (iD). She asked me to help write a few blog posts on my leadership perspective. I thought I would start by focusing on what I learned growing up about conflict resolution. Being the oldest of three, I was born into a leadership role. Growing up, my two younger siblings (Mara and Shane) followed me everywhere and copied everything I did. At the time, this was the most annoying thing in the world—until I realized I could use it to my advantage. Once I started to embrace the love and respect they had for me, I suddenly realized I had two best friends that always had my back. Needless to say, I see them both in the same light today. These give and take relationships have helped me to better approach and understand team dynamics in the workplace. What I have learned is: More often than not, there will be one or more team members in a supervisory role and it is crucial to the success of the team that each individual, regardless of their position, shares a common goal. This situation can be particularly difficult to manage when each of the team members is responsible for equal or similar parts of any given project.
Once the group collectively realizes a common objective, those holding supervisory roles should act as a facilitator, asking questions, encouraging others’ input, and paying attention to how the team is interacting with one another.
Working with teams can be difficult if not executed properly. Since I have been in a formal leadership role at the newspaper I strive for a collaborative group effort where everyone is encouraged to put forth his or her best work.
My siblings and I have come to the realization that three heads are better than one, regardless of superiority. Working together, and a little give and take, goes a long way. My sister Mara is 2 years younger than me, which used to seem like a century. She is such a blessing, even if I didn’t always see it that way. As the years passed (and she got a little taller) we grew much closer and started to become more similar in size, attitudes and interests. She and I are good friends so I try to make sure that our conflicts and disagreements are handled delicately. Similarly, in the workplace, I have started to develop close bonds with coworkers. As a Human Resources Manager, I have seen a lot of close relationships foil at the onset of conflict, resulting from poor resolution techniques. This leads to hostility and tension in the workplace that can severely impact employee motivation and productivity. However, these situations can be resolved relatively simply if all parties involved are willing to accept the responsibility of his or her own actions. If a company has a clear set of rules and guidelines and an individual is in direct violation of one of those provisions—chances are, they’re well aware. If that individual happens to be your subordinate and a friend, you cannot just let it go unnoticed. Here is what I have learned and used to successfully deal with these situations:
1. Level with this person; figure out why or under what circumstances the issue took place.
2. Let them know that you value the relationship and that you’ve attempted to see his or her side of the situation. While they most likely will not enjoy any repercussions, you most certainly won’t enjoy having to communicate them, either.
3. Remind the individual of the policies, ask if you can do anything to help him or her follow them.
4. Reveal the consequence—that’s the job of a leader. If there is ever a disagreement, whether it relates to the workplace or not, just level with each other until you can come to a common agreement, even if you both need to swallow your pride.
My dad always used to tell me, “It takes two to fight,” which is completely true; however, it also takes two to find a resolution. These are just a few of the examples of how I have learned to make the most out of conflicts. Managing people and resolving conflicts aren’t necessarily learned in the workplace. Developing these skills at an early age gave me an advantage in my current role and I know it will continue to be beneficial in the years to come. I am honored to have been asked to write this first blog post and I hope it is the first of many. Watch for Joleen’s perspective and response in the next few weeks. Do you think her perspective will be the same?