From a divided Scottish nation to the Phones 4U staff who, in the wake of the chain’s collapse, now find themselves employed by their previous rivals, handling discontent among the ranks is no mean feat. By tackling the discord head on, leaders can create a team that really is better together.
1. Find a common direction.
A shared goal is a good way to bring opposing sides together. A common evil against which to unite is even better. A fledgling Fujifilm’s employees were united by a simple aim: ‘Kill Kodak’. Mission accomplished.
2. Embrace it.
Research shows that disparate teams can be more creative and better performing than homogenous ones, but only when the culture is inclusive. Instead of forcing consensus, make everyone feel safe to express their views in a constructive way, and use different perspectives to build a better, more innovative future.
3. Promote collaboration.
Structure interdependencies into the team’s workload so that different individuals must collaborate to achieve their goals. Plug skills gaps by encouraging everyone to share their strengths and setting up super subgroups that are stronger than the sum of their parts.
4. Say it with a story.
Find out what ‘positive future’ means to different people and set about showing that it’s on the horizon with a memorable story about the team’s past, present and future. Make it credible by including the concrete steps you’ll take to achieve this vision. We have to hear something 3-5 times before we believe it, so keep telling your story.
5. Use the grapevine.
In times of turmoil, the internal grapevine can be friend or foe. Identify the team’s key influencers – whether it’s the old-timer or the office gossip – and win them round with your vision for the future. Once they believe, the good news will spread itself.