5 Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Team to Master Change and Conflict


by Dr. Sylvia Lafair

Change is always filled with stress, courage, optimism and frustration. Here is what you can do to climb out of the stuck part of change and take everyone along with you.

When you are in the midst of change at work there is a list of things that happen all at once. This is a time that is always confusing and messy. Keep in mind that when the anxiety that comes with change builds in your work setting, you need to have a road map to get out of the muck. During the worst of it you can count on most of the following to happen:

  • Gossip increases
  • Paranoia increases
  • People feel overused
  • People feel undervalued
  • Cliques develop
  • Humor is mean-spirited
  • Physical ailments increase
  • People want quick solutions
  • The “old way” looks better and better

When I was recently in the midst of helping facilitate the leadership change at a global company the anxiety and corollary power games were palpable. While everyone was assured there were not going to be any layoffs no one really believed what was said.

Trust went out the window.

They all knew the Executive Leadership Team would be the first to be renovated. The very polished woman hired to tighten the ship, came from a large organization known to have a revolving door culture.

Everyone was grappling with his or her basic concerns about how to fit in.

It is really like a dreadful divorce and no one likes the woman that dad has just brought in to be the step monster.  This was the theme of the Executive Leadership Team; be careful, keep your head down and don’t make waves.

The breakthrough came for the leadership team when they each had an opportunity to connect the dots of changes from the past with what was happening now.

Here are some of the questions (that you can ask) which got their team thinking in a deeper and more effective way about change:

  1. What were two key times of change when you were a child that had an impact on you?
  2. Who was there for you to talk with when you were upset about change in your young years?
  3. How many times did you move as a kid and how did your family handle the changes?
  4. What were your coping methods when life felt unsure or even out of control for you?
  5. What were the most important two or three things you learned about managing change?

Take a quiet break and think about how you have been introduced to change in your life. Most of the time, especially when we do not choose change, anxiety goes way up and there is a natural tendency to go for easy solutions, even though this is not necessarily the best solution.

When you can monitor your anxiety and notice that you just want a solution, any solution and fast, stop and recalibrate. Take a walk, a swig of coffee or tea, even a chocolate chip cookie will do. Just a few moments of diversion and you can come back to the issue at hand and see it with new eyes.

Change and conflict are the two most critical areas to master in any work setting and once you do, it will add years to your life and a smile to your face.