Faith Wood knows how to resolve conflict. Her years in front-line law enforcement taught her how to effectively de-escalate any situation to a successful conclusion. Beginning today, Faith will use her knowledge of conflict management to guide you through the oft-times stressful experiences you may encounter in your personal or professional life. Her Conflict Coach column will appear every two weeks.
Question: I’m the treasurer of a business networking club in my community. Initially brought in by the managing director, I have always found the group to be a great source of networking – professional and full of integrity.
That is until recently.
With the stopping of group meetings during the pandemic, member engagement has slid considerably, financially the club is struggling and some internal board conflicts have been testing everyone.
Recently, I was invited to a video conference with the new president and two other members of the board. During this meeting, the president never spoke but the other two board members had a lot to say. I felt blindsided during the meeting and wasn’t given an adequate opportunity to respond to allegations made.
To make matters worse, the entire meeting was conducted in a public restaurant where the entire conversation could be overheard easily.
I have avoided all contact with these three since, but I’m wondering how (or even if) I should address the inappropriateness with the president or the rest of the board?
Answer: Your board of directors is being challenged by circumstances both within their control and outside their control.
It’s important to function as a cohesive team during trying times. Respect and professionalism are a big part of that.
So is trust.
Team members who trust one another, engage in conflict around ideas, gain commitment to decisions, and hold one another accountable are more likely to set aside their individual needs and agendas and focus on achieving collective results. They don’t give in to the temptations to place their egos ahead of the collective results that define group success.
This is where I encourage you to take a step back and assume good intent. Although their apparent lack of professionalism and privacy has your dander up, consider reaching out to the new president and expressing your concern with how this meeting unfolded.
Be sure to identify what it will take to bring you back to a full discussion on the matter, such as conducting meetings in private settings and having all board members present.
If this board is to survive the current pressures and thrive in a post-COVID-19 environment, the members will need to adopt some clear guidelines and practices that ensure robust discussions focus on attacking issues and not individuals.
Conflict between members may be legitimate but it can destroy the effective functioning of the group. If the leader can mobilize the group and help members explore their differences, they can become more objective about the issues at hand and how to resolve them.
Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications.
Need help from the Conflict Coach? Contact Faith at firstname.lastname@example.org.