The word alone can cause people the shivers.
We all know that where there are people, there is conflict. It has always been a little baffling to me why so many see conflict is a negative thing. Certainly, it can be. However, conflict can also be very healthy if it’s handled well. Building conflict management skills is important for HR professionals as we help our teams successfully meet the priorities of the business, and ensure that conflict doesn’t disrupt progress. I strongly believe that when teams are able to navigate conflict well, the team builds strength, trust, communication, and innovation.
I had the opportunity to connect with Anna Nielson to talk about her session “Conflict Capable Leadership” at the Wisconsin State SHRM Conference in October.
Q1) Tell us more about you and what inspired you to dedicate yourself to building conflict capable leaders.
I grew up in a family that didn't show me how to handle conflict. In fact, it was just ignored and denied. It made me feel alone and stuck and I always wished it could be different. When I became a mediator and conflict resolution practitioner, I was inspired by all of the possibilities of having skills in approaching and handling conflict created.
As I have navigated my professional life, I have seen conflict be the greatest barrier to people reaching and exceeding their goals.
The problem is that people don't know that they need explicit plans/policies/guidelines for how people in their organizations should approach conflict. They have processes in place for almost everything, except for conflict. We put people in a giant fishbowl together and expect them to figure it out. The stakes are high because their behavior is tied to their paycheck. I saw this gap and knew I could create something special to solve the problem.
I believe conflict capabilities are the greatest tool for success in organizations and I want to inspire others to believe it, too.
Q2) You mentioned in the session description that shifting your mindset about conflict is a powerful leadership tool. What shift needs to take place?
When I meet people, they often only see conflict as one-dimensional. For them, it's terrifying. The shift I help people explore is learning to see conflict in all new ways by gaining understanding about what they hope to achieve from showing up to hard conversations.
Q3) Why do you think leaders fear conflict?
People are scared of it because they are unprepared and unsure of what is expected of them when conflict happens. The stakes are high when your behavior is tied to your paycheck, and it's scary to take risks.
Q4) What are some of the ways that HR can help support creating conflict capable leadership teams?
First, HR professionals can lead the way in creating conflict capable teams and organizations by asking two important questions:
Next, they can work on a plan for creating a culture where the expectations about conflict are clear. This means that everyone knows exactly what the culture expects them to do when conflict arises including what to say and how to say it. This requires training employees, and modeling, reinforcing and rewarding these actions.
Q5) What is one thing you hope attendees of your session will take back to their workplaces?
I want them to take back a sense of curiosity about conflict. By giving yourself space to experience more than just fear, you are creating endless options for yourself and the people around you.
Please be sure to add Conflict Capable Leadership to your Wisconsin SHRM Conference session line-up! This session is offered virtually and in-person on Thursday, October 13, 2022 at 12:45PM to 2:00PM (CST).
Anne Nielson is the founder and CEO of Conflict Capable Solutions. Her superpower is creating Conflict Capable leaders, teams, and organizations to drive innovation and maximize growth. She's an experienced civil mediator, conflict resolution consultant, Restorative HR practitioner, and facilitator. Anna holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication and Diversity Studies from Metropolitan State University, and a master’s degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership from the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
#WISHRM #WISHRM22 #SMILE #HRBreakingThrough #PowerofthePast #ForceoftheFuture
The Wisconsin State SHRM Conference is back with an amazing line-up of keynotes, sessions and networking opportunities – which, of course, means fun and shenanigans. (Oh, my heart!)
I am a geek for HR conferences! And I love to peruse the breakouts to find the sessions that resonate with me and my organization – with the hopes of bringing back some new ideas and/or information to my team, or for my own professional and personal growth. Continuous learning and professional development is incredibly important to me. I prioritize and protect it. I cannot tell you how many people I interact with daily who tell me they either don’t have time for development, or their manager/leader hasn’t supported (typically meaning that their manager hasn't approached them for career conversation).
My advice has always been to own your career. YOU are in the driver’s seat. Everyone else is a co-pilot (or backset driver – yikes).
Taura Prosek’s session, Empower Employees to Lead Their Careers, immediately stood out to me. I feel like we’re kindred spirits, and I had to connect with her to learn more about her, her passion, and her WISHRM22 session!
Q1: How did you get into executive coaching?
In 2013, I left the corporate world after 20 years to become the director of career management for the Wisconsin School of Business evening and executive MBA programs. 60% of my role was leadership and career coaching so I began a formal accreditation program to become a certified career coach as well as executive coach with the International Coaching Federation. Although there is an element of coaching throughout my entire career, it is the past decade where it’s been a focus for me having coached thousands of leaders in all areas of career and leadership. It’s been my most fulfilling role to date!
Q2: Why are you so passionate about empowering others to lead and own their careers?
I can’t count the times when someone would say to me, “I think I need a change” and what they meant by that was that they were going to start a job search externally. The root of this was likely that they outgrew their role and needed the next challenge. So often they weren’t taking a thoughtful and holistic view to this decision and instead, running away from something versus running towards something. After working through the Lead Your Career step by step process, often this decision resulted in an internal job change that aligned with their interests, skills, and business need versus leaving their organization that knows them and trusts them.
We spend a lot of time “at work” and to enjoy what we do, to feel valued, challenged, and energized is what it’s all about. Everyone deserves to figure it out and I was on a mission to create a system that would get them to their own answers. It’s no longer about what the company wants or needs me to do. No one else has the answers for us.
Q3: What is one of your own “a-ha” moments in your own career?
My career has been a windy road for sure. At each one of those turns was some kind of “a-ha” moment. One of my first experiences was after spending 4 years in finance at GE right out of college. I was asked to take on the Early Talent Manager role leading 140 interns and co-ops in all fields across the company. It wasn’t anything I was prepared for but saying yes to this challenge grew me in ways at the age of 26 I would have never thought possible. The “a-ha” for me was that taking risks can come with incredible reward. I have continued taking those risks as I’ve managed my own career.
Q4: In your session description, one of your learning objectives is a process that guides individuals into discovering the essential career criteria they need to make important decisions. Without giving it all away, can you tell us a little bit about this process?
Decades ago, career decisions were kind of made for us. The company would say they needed you in a position due to your skill set. It was about business need and skill set/strength alignment. Well today, we are saying, “hey, I have interests, needs, motivations, and desires that need consideration.” For example, I had a friend who left a company because their outdated technology was so frustrating on her productivity. This was an important criterion for her. We may make a job change (internal or external) because we like the title and comp package. However, there is so much more that goes into our fulfillment related to the job duties itself, environment, size of team, travel requirements, culture, flexibility, belief in company or product or mission, and so on. Let’s put our arms around these criteria and create a list of things that are important for ourselves. This list acts as our compass and keeps us grounded. One of my criteria is variety. Just that one word. Variety. This isn’t a complicated process yet a critical one to ensuring we are taking a holistic view.
Q5: How can HR professionals help empower employees and leaders through this process?
This system can be tailored to meet the needs of each organization. We’ve had some organizations bring in Lead Your Career workshops for all employees to introduce this process. This allows them to get started on their career plan and have a more strategic approach to where they want to develop. This framework also empowers more authentic career conversations. It’s an important learning and development initiative that employees are seeking today. HR professionals can help by offering this training, becoming more effective career coaches, and equipping their managers and leaders to have more authentic career conversations. Stewart Leadership recently published a 73-page self directed Lead Your Career workbook to allow organizations a scalable and economical solution should that be a useful tool for HR professionals.
Q6: What is one thing you hope attendees of your session will take back to their workplaces?
When I am asked, “Why would you offer career support to my employees? Aren’t you arming them to leave us?” My reply is, “I’m arming them to grow and stay.” Your employees need interview training. They need professional resumes that highlight their accomplishments. They deserve to contribute to your organization that not only grows and develops their skills but that also aligns with their interests and motivations. Let’s embrace this area of learning and development. Your employees are craving it!
I love how Taura stated, “So often they weren’t taking a thoughtful and holistic view to this decision and instead, running away from something versus running towards something.” Taking ownership of your career means taking intentional actions towards the career and life you want. As HR professionals, we can help our employees do the same.
To learn more, join Taura’s session, Empowering Employees to Lead Their Careers on Thursday, October 13th from 12:45pm to 2pm (CST). This session is offered both virtually and in person.
#WISHRM22 #SMILE #HRCommunity #HRShenanigans
More about Taura:
Taura D. Prosek is an experienced executive with a unique background in business development and talent coaching and consulting. She has an ability to understand client needs and propose customized solutions to best meet their goals. With over 12 years of experience in consultative sales, she has a proven track record of building trusted advisory relationships with the needs of her client top of mind.
Over Taura’s 24 year career, she has had the opportunity to work in finance, sales, and human resources for diverse organizations such as GE Healthcare, Cielo Talent, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her background brings her knowledge in a breadth of industries, business types, company sizes, and global experiences. She is passionate about leadership development, career management, and building high-performance teams.
She graduated from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University with a Masters of Management (MBA) in 2000 and from the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a major in finance in 1993. She is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation and earned the Corporate Executive Leadership Development Certification (CELDC). Taura is a trained facilitator and Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach who has conducted hundreds of workshops and training sessions ranging from small teams to large audiences.
Taura is originally from Muscatine, Iowa, and resides near Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, Joe, and their three sons.