Sunday, November 30, 2008


Conflicts are natural; it is natural that different people will have different opinions; it is natural that different people will have different agendas which they wish to promote. Therefore it is natural that conflicts will take place.

We all tend, and so do I, to refer to conflicts as a negative issue. Nevertheless, as our world is complicated, we must notice, that there are also good results caused by conflicts (and I wish to thank the leading and control guide and the free library of management):
Conflicts help to sharpen and to bring some issues to our awareness;
Conflicts drive people to act upon their truth;
Conflicts trigger organizational and personal energy; if it is channeled correctly, it leverages us.

Yet, if conflicts are not handled and managed, we loose control, and the conflicts can damage both the activities as well as the organization's morality.
Hereby are several factors that can cause higher level conflicts in organizations:
Competitive atmosphere in the office.
Encourages conflicts.
Uncertainty period (low level of security).
Enables conflicts' eruption, caused by the high level of tense.
Unclear definition of job definitions and overlapping between jobs.
Causes people to interfere one in each others job, because of the unclear definition and sooner or later, drives many conflicts.
Low level of communication between people.
Does not cause conflicts directly, but surely enables it, as when there is any suspicion, it turns into an unwanted direction if it is not clarified fast enough,
As best as you can, examine this list and see how you can deal with it. Prevention is always far better than dealing with an existing problem.

Many people speak about finding a win-win situation as a way of resolving conflicts. The idea is based on that, that many times contradicted opinions come from personal interests of the people holding them, but analysis of the interests can build some new shared decision that does not oppose (or only opposes a little) each sides' interests. The idea of mediation is based significantly on this concept. What do I think? A great idea, but surely no "magic maker" as people may tend to believe. Sometime it resolves the conflict, sometimes partly and sometimes it does not do the job. In some cases the conflict is deep-seated and win-win solutions do not exist.

Of course that speaking one with another helps to handle every conflict, and could be a very effective tool. A tool for communication; a tool for being attentive; a tool for understanding differences; and even… a tool for ventilation. Simple- but works.
And, of course that preventing a conflict from being spoke loudly can help, as well as preventing blaming, preventing turning the conversation form issues to people, all these are trivial, yet always correct and surely do their job.

Two tips, I found, that help me:
First, willingness to concede and to give up upon part of the issues that I think are right, not because I am convinced that I made a mistake, but as part as showing the person with whom I am in a conflict that I am trying to find a way to go towards him or her. People act reciprocity. If we go towards them, in many cases, they will come towards us. Simple, but works. This way the conflict can turn smaller and may be handled.

And secondly, another tip, that helps me: Respecting the other person and opinion, even if I disagree with them and do not resolve the conflict itself. There is some issue, which I disagree with one of my workers, how and in what way it should be handled. I tried, two years ago, to give up and let that person handle some big project according to her way. I won't say that there were not good aspects and good results. Yet, as I believed in the first place, there were aspects that I liked less. Now, when a similar project, with the same issue, is again to be handled, I decided to lead it my way. But I do it, both then and now, while respecting the opponent opinion and the person holding it. I am not trying to state that there is no conflict; there certainly is, and we live with it. Not even bad, I believe.

As I said in the beginning of my post, life is complicated. Us understanding the complication and that we have to live and strive not always resolving every issue, and not always having win-win solutions, turn down part of the frustration, and assists us with living with conflicts. Maybe it even weakens some of them.

I wish us all pleasant life, and if possible- Good energy driving conflicts, not annoying ones.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

A good manager

I am writing this blog, now, over a year. Every time, looking at another aspect, another issue concerning management, trying to highlight it for myself, as well as for the readers. Doing so, I find myself wondering: If we collect all the written literature, here, in other blogs and over the web, in hundreds and thousands of management books, it seems as if, the list of skills required for being, what is called, a "good manager" are...endless.
I feel as if anyone who wishes to fulfill this list and turn into a good manager, should be a superman; some virtuoso that is a and b and c, and so on.

It is important, I believe, to discuss the issue, for two complementary reasons:
The first, as a tool for examining myself, seeking where I should focus my efforts on improving; the second, in order to better choose the subordinate managers and help them develop better, so they best manage their employees.

If I would have to choose five and only five skills of a good manager, I believe I would choose the following list:

A manager is a person who knows to take decisions. To listen, to understand, to ask; to agree, to disagree. But at the end of the day- to take a decision. And to know, that I am responsible and later on, I will not blame my partners nor my employees; not my customers and in no way shall I blame the weather. To take decisions and to be responsible for these decisions.

A manager is a person who knows how to motivate people. Motivate people to act; motivate people to act effectively; motivate people to work with sparkles in their eyes and enthusiasm in their hearts. Motivating people is important in a stable environment of work, however it is much more critical in a changing market as we are experiencing, now, in the 21st century. The changing market causes us to check and recheck our decisions, to refine or even change them due to the circumstances, and to motivate people to act upon these changes.
A manager is a person with a presence; a person, that people actually want to listen to what he or she says, and to follow.

A manager is a person who acts. This has several aspects: Acts- does not find it undignified to work, and to even to perform some dirty jobs. Acts- is connected to the field and continues to deal, even though less, but deals, with the professional discipline, in which the company specializes. Acts- analyzing the past and bringing the future.

A good manager is somewhat different. Creative, knowing how to think out-of-the-box, sometimes thinking otherwise than other people think. Your employees do not expect you to think exactly as they do; the organization needs you to think somewhat different in order to burst out and lead. Moreover, you have to find the right way to proceed, however not always the trivial one. Willing to take risks, and knowing that sometimes we will pay for taking them. Innovative.

A good manager is a person. Empathic, attentive, laughing sometimes, other times angry. Also, having weaknesses. Externalize the person whom you are.
Some of the readers may ask: Does humanity (us being people) compensates for professionalism, for the skills of taking decisions, etc.? The answer is, definitely, no; with no doubts. Being human, and even externalizing it, resembles the attitude to the aero digit. A zero, if it comes before a number (01, 079, 013456), adds nothing. However, a zero digit, added after a number (10,790, 134560) adds a magnitude. It multiplies by factor 10. I believe that humanity acts in a similar way: Without the other skills, it is useless. When it comes above them, its what makes the difference.
Be human. Teach your employees whom you manage, to do the same.

If I succeed to stick even only to this list of skills, I hope and believe that I can be in a situation where I navigate the ship, in the right speed, having smiling sailors on my deck.

I surely try.