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Raise your hand if you remember the iconic tagline "Softer Side of Sears," or let's start with, raise your hand if you even remember Sears Department Store. Now that I have dated myself, let's get into why I embarked on this path and the concept of the softer side of leading, also known as Mindful Leadership. The role of a leader is challenging, and while it brings numerous rewards, there are some tough aspects that can create layers that harden over time like a callous. Mindful Leadership can break through those layers or, better yet, prevent them from forming in the first place.

Mindful Leadership goes beyond focusing solely on success and holding people accountable; it puts a strong emphasis on empathy, connection, and compassion. It involves leading with your heart, nurturing authentic relationships, and making a beneficial impact on the lives of others. This transformative approach moves individuals to realize their full potential while promoting kindness and understanding. When people can see and, more importantly, feel that you legitimately care about them, the benefits will come back to you tenfold. And when I say benefits, I am not just talking about profits and production but the relationship between you and the employee as well as the group.

I know the word “synergy” is overused, but it does perfectly encapsulate what happens when you are a mindful leader. Here are 4 ways to get you started.

1. Genuine Guidance

Mindful leaders understand the importance of empathy and compassion in their interactions with their team. Your people want to work where they feel safe, valued, respected, and included. A safe place does not just refer to the physical space, although that is important too. In this context, we are talking about emotional and/or psychological safety. The quickest way to do this is to treat mistakes like a baseball game, #GoRays. When a batter misses the first or even second pitch, they don't get benched; they are given another chance. And don't think this is all about the batter. If the pitcher (i.e., you) didn't throw the ball legally the first time or even the third time, you don't get benched either. Your people are not perfect, and neither are you, so everyone deserves grace and a chance to improve. Coaching them starts with actively listening and coming up with "done wells" and identifying areas of improvement for next time. Click here to access Omnia’s coaching guide.

2. Connect with Connections

Mindful Leadership urges you to go beyond the traditional hierarchy and connect with your people on a deeper level. Facilitate open communication, active collaboration, and idea-sharing to break down barriers and create a culture of shared purpose and mutual support. Although you always want to be aware of appropriate boundaries because you don’t want to be known as the “busy body” of the office who is always in everyone’s business, developing strong relationships is essential for fostering camaraderie and unity. When your personnel feel connected to you and their colleagues, their engagement, motivation, and productivity will skyrocket.

3. Walk the Talk

Your actions as a leader carry significant influence, often more than your words alone. When you lead by example, you embody the values, behaviors, and work ethic that you expect from your team. This consistency establishes credibility and sets a standard for excellence. By modeling the behavior you desire, you create a culture of accountability and integrity. This pushes others to show up as their best selves, creates good juju, and encourages each person to contribute to the collective success.

4. Purpose and Passion

One of the most remarkable aspects of Mindful Leadership is its focus on making a positive impact, both within the company and in the broader community. Recognize that your role extends beyond business goals and profits. In the face of global challenges and societal changes, you, as a leader, must also be mindful of the broader impact of your actions. You have the opportunity to leverage your position of influence to address social and environmental issues, promote sustainable practices, and foster ethical decision-making.

Actively seek ways to contribute to society as well as champion social responsibility initiatives and causes that align with your values. Lead with purpose and inspire your team to make a difference as well. Implement corporate social responsibility programs, engage in community service, or establish partnerships with nonprofits. Also, provide your employees with opportunities to give back. This approach strengthens the bonds within your organization and builds a sense of pride and fulfillment. The Omnia Group practices this as we recently had a volunteer day and worked with Habitat for Humanity.

A leader that recognizes and acknowledges the efforts and achievements of their team will make them feel appreciated and energized. This will also make those inevitable difficult conversations we as leaders must have easier because trust has been established.  Plus, your team will not feel like you are coming after them but more so trying to help them.

Lastly, let us redefine leadership as an ever-evolving concept that continuously embraces new perspectives, challenges the status quo, and promotes inclusivity and adaptability. By doing so, you unlock your true potential as a mindful leader and embark on a journey that transcends boundaries, creates meaningful connections, and leaves a lasting impression. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Also read: 

The Mindful Leader's Edge: Introducing the Path to Mindfulness
Accountable Inspiration: Striking the Perfect Leadership Balance for Success
The Leader's Playbook: A Comprehensive Guide from Onboarding to Offboarding
Redefining Leadership: Embracing the Power of Servant Leadership in the Modern Workplace
A Call for Revolutionary Leadership in Today's Context


Empathy is an important element in growing and nurturing strong connections, in both our personal and professional lives. When someone takes the time to understand another person’s perspectives or emotions, it can cause a deeper relationship to bloom between the two. In a job setting, empathy can foster productive conversations and help resolve conflicts. A workplace that encourages empathy helps employees feel valued and appreciated, which can contribute to stronger engagement, loyalty, and productivity. It begins with understanding what empathy is.

Sympathy vs. Empathy

Sympathy and empathy can both be important factors in helping promote that human connection in your organization, but they are not the same thing. Sympathy involves feeling concern for someone, such as “feeling bad” about another person’s misfortune or pain, but without really knowing what it is like to be in their specific situation. Your emotions about the matter come from your own perspective. Empathy takes it a step further; empathy accentuates the giver’s compassion by trying to understand what a person is going through based on that person’s unique experiences or views.

For example, sympathy means you feel sorry for your colleague Tom whose family member is dealing with a difficult illness. A sympathetic response can look like expressing your support to Tom, sending him a card, or making a donation to a charity that funds research for the illness — all of which are great things to do. Empathy, however, helps you dive deeper into what Tom is feeling and why. You may see how Tom’s close relationship with his family member makes the illness hard on him, that Tom feels stressed over large medical bills and the ability to pay them, and other issues unique to Tom’s situation. Empathy gives you a more well-rounded idea of what another person is going through.

And empathy is not only for problems or difficulties; it also helps drive understanding when teams are discussing ideas, developing plans, and trying to come to an agreement about how to move forward with projects and strategies. When people feel that their ideas and views are given true consideration and that their managers and co-workers are interested in understanding the reasons behind those views, then collaboration and compromise often come much easier.

Ideas for growing an empathetic workplace

1. Start from the top down.

Empathetic leadership can have a trickle-down effect that impacts everyone in the organization. When employees know that management genuinely prioritizes understanding and relating to personnel, it inspires them to do the same for their colleagues. In addition to discussing the importance of an empathetic workplace to your staff, show empathy in tangible ways by asking questions, considering different points of view, and offering to help with problems or conflicts.

Institute an open-door policy for your team, and make sure they know you are available and willing to discuss any issues they may be dealing with, without judgment. Emphasize this idea by having regular meetings, in person or virtual, with your staff, and encourage open, respectful dialogue.

Knowing the communication styles of your employees is helpful when conducting these meetings. You can use a personality or behavioral assessment to show you who on your staff is expressive, outgoing, and prefers to talk through their ideas or problems and who are more reserved and need time to flesh out their thoughts internally before conveying them to others. Some people, especially in the reserved group, may prefer putting their ideas in writing more than verbalizing them in front of the group. Recognizing these differences and allowing employees to voice their perspectives or ideas in their own style can help facilitate richer discussions and stronger understanding within the team.

Employees might not be comfortable bringing certain topics up to management or in a public meeting, which is why having an empathetic peer group on the job is crucial. Leadership should encourage colleagues to set aside time to talk and share with each other in a low-stress way.

2. Listen, listen, and listen some more.

Empathy involves a genuine desire to understand someone else, and you cannot accomplish that if you do most of the talking yourself. Whether you are a manager interacting with your staff or working peer to peer, listen attentively to what the person is saying rather than thinking of how you should respond.

Pay attention to their non-verbal cues, like tone, facial expressions, and gestures, which can be easily missed if you are not focused on the other person. Additionally, make sure your own body language conveys that you are fully present and not distracted. Only after taking in all of what the other person has said should you consider how to respond.

3. When it’s time to speak, consider your response carefully.

Start out by repeating what the other person has said but in your own words to be sure you are not misunderstanding anything. Try starting with the phrase, “What I’m hearing you say is…” and rephrase the main points of the conversation. This gives the other person a chance to correct or clarify what they are trying to convey.

It can be tempting to say, “I know exactly how you feel. I had the same experience when…” but resist this impulse. You may intend to use this to build a connection, showing how you understand what the person is going through, but doing so can make it feel like you are making the conversation about yourself. When trying to show an empathetic response, recognize that the person’s experience is unique to them; you are trying to understand them and their perspectives, not merely trying to draw parallels to your own life.

Remember, empathy isn’t about fixing someone’s problems; it’s about building a connection through understanding. It’s fine to offer your thoughts or ideas if the person asks for them, but sometimes being there to listen without judgment can provide exactly what the person needs while growing a sense of trust and appreciation.

Omnia has helped organizations recognize and understand their employees’ unique attributes, strengths, and motivators for nearly 40 years. Our dedicated Client Success Managers act as trusted advisors for our clients, helping them learn how to take this valuable knowledge and use it to enhance their workforce. Let us partner with you to put the power of insight to work in your business.

It’s impossible not to think of great romances in February, the month dedicated to celebrating relationships. Jack and Rose…he made the ultimate sacrifice for true love (even though there was enough room on that enormous door); or Danny and Sandy…hopelessly devoted to one another before, quite literally, flying off in a 1948 Ford Deluxe convertible, as all couples should; and then there’s Westley and Buttercup… storming castles and cheating death…inconceivable!

What did you do to celebrate your relationship on Valentine’s Day?

Was it a sappy card, flowers, chocolate, or maybe reservations at the trendy new gastronomical experience? Those are great strategies for romantic relationships, and certainly less drastic than choosing who gets to avoid hypothermia, but what does it take to build or improve our work relationships?

I once had a male colleague give me flowers the day after we had a disagreement about a project. It felt…awkward. I mean it was sweet, sure, but crossing boundaries could quickly land both parties in HR. The next thing you know, everyone is sitting in an anti-harassment training.

That’s why strategy #1 is…

Know the difference between personal relationships and work relationships.

The relationships we form at work are important ones. Whether you work in an office or virtually, you likely spend a lot of time interacting with your colleagues and managers, so you want those interactions to be as smooth and productive as possible. At least I hope you do!

While many of us might form a close work friendship or two that extends beyond the office, work relationships shouldn’t cross boundaries. Of course, we live in the real world, so blurred lines exist. For work friendships that extend outside the office, it’s a good idea for both parties to regularly check themselves to maintain professionalism.

For example, talk about your strategy for those times when you may not agree with each other about something at work. Set appropriate boundaries. Like your parents always used to tell you, true friends like you for who you are, not for what you can do for them. A friendly colleague should not expect you to blindly agree with them, share information that you shouldn’t, or gossip negatively about others. Run from toxic relationships, which is really just great advice for all aspects of your life. 

Strategy #2: Be caring and empathetic.

Yes, work relationships are professional, not personal, but they shouldn’t be cold and devoid of all emotion. There just shouldn’t be an intense outpouring of personal thoughts and emotions. Don’t make it too heavy. But do be empathetic and caring. Make an effort to get to know people on a casually personal level. It’s okay to ask personal questions, just not deeply personal questions.

Need some help with that? Here are some examples:

It’s never okay to ask a coworker to help you identify a rash.

Strategy #3: Know your coworkers’ communication style and workplace preferences.

We all have a variety of personality traits that define our inherent strengths, challenges, and workplace preferences. With Omnia’s behavioral assessment, everyone fits into one of 4 broad categories — the Social and Analytical Drivers and the Social and Analytical Supporters — and further into 17 distinct personality groups. Understanding the unique personalities of your coworkers so you can communicate with each person in a way that works for them is a great way to improve work relationships. Knowing a colleague’s underlying motivators and communication style will help you avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary conflict.

For example, if you are a fast-paced, big-picture person who only hits the highlights when talking with others, but you’re talking to a methodical, detailed coworker, be sure to give more data than you normally would. Take some time to explain yourself and provide context.

If your company uses Omnia’s behavioral assessment for hiring or employee development, the information can be useful for everyone. We have personal development reports written to and for the employee as a way to increase self-awareness and awareness of others. It’s information you can use to nurture work relationships.

Strategy #4: Ask questions to understand the situation from the other person’s point of view.

As discussed above, we are all different, from our personality types to our deeply held values and beliefs. A workplace culture is made up of dynamic, complex people, so don’t assume that you know what a teammate is thinking about a project or task at work. Actively seek to understand the other person’s point of view. Not only will it improve the work relationship, but it could also make the project better. Be open and listen; it’s the exchange of information, thoughts, and ideas that could take your project from done to done spectacularly.

Strategy #5: Know your stuff and do your job.

No one wants to have a relationship with a slacker who is not pulling their own weight, no matter how nice that person might be otherwise. Work relationships, like all other relationships, are based on trust, teamwork, and getting stuff done. We all want to hit our goals and succeed, so nothing will spoil a work relationship faster than someone who is not doing their fair share. It’s like how you feel when a member of your family walks by that full trash can or tosses their clothes outside of the hamper.

Work relationships are an important part of our lives and can mean the difference between being engaged and productive at work or feeling a sense of dread at the thought of that next meeting. Use these 5 strategies to make work relationships work!

I know you can hear me, but are you listening? 

People get my name wrong a lot. I’ve often remarked to friends that it’s like being part of a social experiment every day of my life. Admittedly, Keather is a unique name. I’ve never met another Keather, and I’ve never met anyone who has. I know there are other Keathers in the world because I’m human and I’ve googled it to find out. And while I understand that Keather is a unique name, it’s still amazing to me how many times my name is spelled and pronounced incorrectly. So when I set out to write a blog about listening I thought it would be fun to go back and look at the photos I have in an album of spelling mis-haps. To me these examples exemplify what a constant challenge it is for our brains to take in and fully process what we are hearing before we take action.

Here are some examples of misinterpretations I’ve experienced over the years:


Barriers to Listening: Internal and External Challenges

There are many things that get in the way of us fully listening to people. There are external barriers we face daily that are due to our physical environment. Most of the spelling mishaps I’ve experienced are either in coffee shops, airports or hotels. Often the person is frantically trying to take down my name while fighting the loud hums and whistles of the espresso machines, or the screeching of blenders and other baristas. Hotel operators or airline desk attendants are distracted by long queues, irritated travelers, or computer delays.

External barriers to listening are physical barriers that interfere with hearing more than listening, but they can certainly cause enough distraction to get in the way of someone being able to listen fully with concentration. In an office setting, these include things like the quality of sound on your phone, your computer speakers, the speaker’s settings and the all too famous issue of someone being on mute when they’re talking on a Zoom call. These are all things that a listener and a speaker can typically control. If not, the conversation should always be rescheduled.

Internal barriers to listening are more complex and difficult to work through. This is when the messenger is heard, but there are internal barriers that prevent the listener from fully understanding and comprehending the message. These internal barriers to listening can keep the message receiver from understanding the intent and feeling behind what’s being communicated and can result in taking incorrect action or giving an inappropriate response.

I’m certain we’ve all been in a situation where we’ve known that someone can hear us, but they aren’t fully listening. That experience leaves us frustrated and can lead to serious consequences of disengagement, work errors, and productivity loss to name a few. Being ready to fully listen means you’re committed to picking up all the sound in the message, and the meaning behind it. There are many things that can get in the way.

Here are 3 to consider and work on overcoming.

1. Brain Distraction

According to the Cleveland Clinic, our brains process about 70,000 facts a day. In addition to the information overload we’re experiencing, there are always competing distractions coming our way whenever we’re in a conversation. Rarely is our mobile phone out of our sight. Texts, IMs, and other interruptions are occurring constantly while we’re in conversations with others. To be a good listener we must manage these distractions to the best of our ability. Turn off notifications and sound alerts. Put your phone face down and keep it down throughout the conversation. Easier said than done, right? Just remember, multi-tasking is not doing multiple things at once – it’s screwing up multiple things at once, and the last thing we want to do is have a key employee feel discounted and unheard. So be all in.

2. Communication Style Differences

Each of us have a unique style and preference of communication. Some people prefer to paint the entire picture for you with every detail, and others prefer to only hit the highlights. Depending on your preference it can be difficult to be all in and fully listen to the person who’s got the opposite approach. Some would prefer to write or receive an email ahead of a conversation or even in place of a conversation. The Omnia behavioral assessment helps leaders and individuals understand their unique communication qualities and preferred approach. When you’re the listener, it’s important to honor the messenger’s style while keeping your own in check. Especially in difficult conversations when you know the individual is having a challenging time discussing a sensitive topic. Allow them to do it in their way and adapt your style.

3. Misaligned Expectations

Have you ever just wanted to vent to someone about a challenging situation and they jump in immediately telling you how to fix it? You weren’t looking for advice, but all of a sudden you’re getting told what to do. This is a common barrier and occurrence, unfortunately. Most of us want to be helpful and can’t help but jump into problem-solving mode. We can overcome this barrier by clarifying expectations at the beginning of a conversation and adapting our listening Ask what the individual wants from you during the conversation. As one of my favorite leaders used to clarify in meetings - are we information sharing or information processing? Are they looking to just provide a brief status update with no judgement or input from you? Are they coming to you for advice and discernment to help them get unstuck with something and to consider alternative approaches? Or do they merely want a supportive confidant or cheerleader to share a challenge or victory. Knowing what the individual expects from you as the listener right up front can set the conversation up for success.

Tips for Becoming a Better Listener

Keeping these barriers in mind, here are some things you can do during conversations to fully listen and not just hear.

1. Make Time

Focus on being effective in the conversation, not efficient. Steven Covey, author of my all-time favorite book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said “you simply can’t think efficiency with people. You think effectiveness with people and efficiency with things.” Once you’ve clarified up front what the person wants from the conversation be sure you have enough time to get through the content. We’re all pressed for time and usually jammed with back to back meetings. Make sure before you dig into a conversation that there’s enough time to get to the expected result.

2. Don’t Interrupt

This is hard! But keep yourself in check and let the individual complete their sentences. Be sure that full thoughts have been expressed and that the person is finished before you jump in with any response or questions. A good practice is to count to 5 before you step in. This may seem like a lifetime, but you’ll be surprised at how often the person has more to say and they will if you give them that time and space.

3. Take Notes

Writing down what you’re hearing is a great way to stay focused and capture details you will want to clarify later in the conversation. It also gives those of us with a propensity to interrupt something to do. If you’re taking notes on your computer or phone be sure to let the other person know you’re doing so. They may incorrectly assume you’re responding to emails or texting a friend.

4. Ask Questions

After you’re certain the speaker has finished their thoughts and is ready for a response begin with asking questions. Asking questions assures there is clarity before action. It also shows your intent to fully understand what the other person is saying and experiencing, and shows you are interested; committed. Clarify what you heard and ask for supporting details, or feelings behind the message. Repeat back an important fact they shared or a specific detail to confirm you have a complete understanding of what was said and what they meant. Using phrases like –  Do you mean? Are you saying? Would it be important for you?... go a long way in not only helping expand the conversation to get more clarity but also being sure the messenger feels heard.

5. Respond Appropriately

Circle back to the beginning of the conversation and what the expected outcome was. Did the individual get what they wanted out of the conversation? Did you leave them feeling heard? Did you mirror the emotion expressed? Agree on next steps, specific actions, and the timing for follow-up. And remember - listening isn’t just a one-time event. Effective communication between a manager and their employees is fundamental to the operation of any business and it’s a continual process. Make a commitment to follow these steps in team meetings and 1x1’s and you’ll go a long way in demonstrating you are not only hearing your colleagues, but you’re listening intently.


We are here to help! One of the most powerful management tools is simple self and team awareness. Knowing your natural communication style along with the styles of your team members is a great way to start. These insights help you effectively recognize the differences within your team and manage to those dynamics. When you commit to authentic communication, it’s easier to build employee trust and lay the foundation for sustained employee engagement and productivity.

Before I started work at The Omnia Group, I worked briefly in the marketing department of an investment firm. Looking back, I don’t think my manager (we’ll call her Darla) had much experience as a manager. What she did have was a LOT of energy for marketing and a lot of ideas. When an idea came to her, she wanted to (and wanted her staff to) act on it immediately. On paper, that sounds great. In action, well, it was chaos. Projects were started and abandoned. I would get pulled off a task because some new idea would come up. Sometimes she had plans she thought she’d told me about but hadn’t. The deadlines were all yesterday. It got to be a bit much, and I eventually left. (They say people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers, and I definitely left Darla).

Shortly after, I joined Omnia as an analyst. The analysts are the ones who write the assessment reports, so we spend a lot of time in training going over the results, including our own. Once I understood what I was looking at, I laughed when I saw my column 6. It was TALL! Omnia uses an 8-column bar graph to visually represent personality traits. Column 6 measures the need for predictability and stability. I agree that I need those things, but I remember being VERY decisive about some of the words I selected when taking the assessment after working with Darla. I retroactively diagnosed myself with something I called Darla Poisoning.

I don’t want to imply she was a bad person. She wasn’t. She just wasn’t a good manager, especially not for me. And since managing was a secondary part of her job (marketing being first), she really wasn’t interested in learning how to manage me or anyone else effectively.

That brings us to… 

Management problem number 1: Thinking employees work the same way they do

As mentioned recently, there are certain traits that make being a manager more natural, primarily assertiveness and independence/big-picture orientation. But those traits are not necessarily ideal for all the positions being managed. For example, a person who is quite assertive might not always be as helpful or accommodating as needed for handling support and service duties. You don’t want your customer service agent always trying to “win” an interaction with a customer. A person who is big-picture oriented may not always want to use required processes or pay attention to the details needed to accurately handle data or administration.

In Darla’s case, being quick and big-picture oriented suited her role as a manager – there were a lot of priorities for her to handle and a lot of innovation was required. But the people who were trying to perform the work needed more time and information to get it right. We also needed more direction and information. She expected us to read her (very busy) mind.

It’s important for managers to reflect on the kind of traits necessary to succeed in a given role and embrace the differences among them and their staff.  Have you ever contemplated doing a task that you’re about to delegate and thought something like, “Ugh, I would rather stroll through a lion’s den with lunch meat in my pocket than do this?” If so, that’s a great clue that someone with a different set of traits than yours might need to tackle the project.

Also, don’t underestimate other people’s abilities to enjoy something you would hate doing. I could enter data all day long and be fairly content, while it would make someone else crazy. But I would likely turn into dust if I had to give a bunch of presentations.

(Be realistic about this too, though. At a different previous job, my manager, we’ll call her Marla, assigned me to periodically smell the bathrooms after a heavy rain to make sure the plumbing wasn’t backing up. That’s not something many people would want to do.)

Management problem number 2: Managing everyone the same way

Understanding that not everyone wants to be managed the way you do is the first step to successful management, but keep in mind that not everyone is different from you in the same way! This is not to imply that employees should have different standards or opportunities because they have different needs. Being fair is critical, but the way to help them achieve goals and grow their careers should be tailored to the employee. Some people are motivated by variety, some people are motivated by praise, some are motivated by chances to learn, some need more information or specific direction than others. Being attuned to each of your employees’ hot and cold buttons will help you manage more effectively.

Management problem number 3: Not wanting to seem like “the bad guy”

Managers who are very accommodating, sensitive to criticism, or focused on maintaining relationships with employees can sometimes struggle to take a strong stance, address performance problems, or press people to meet challenging goals. They don’t want to seem mean. The problem is, they can’t avoid seeming mean if they don’t stand firm. Unfortunately, there are likely to be people who take advantage of lenient managers, and there are others who will naturally do the right thing. These are the ones who are punished by a manager who doesn’t hold people accountable. They do more work for fewer rewards, and while they might not complain, they are likely to leave.

How do you take assertive management action if you’re not an assertive person?

  1. Be prepared. You know conflict is going to come up. Make a plan for when it does. Talk to your own manager and let them know your concerns. Ask what they would do if ____, and what they expect you to do.
  2. Make your expectations and consequences of not following through clear to your team. This puts the ball in the employees’ court. But you have to follow through on the consequences.
  3. Make sure you have all the facts and present them in an unemotional way.
  4. Don’t make it personal. If someone is not meeting goals, it’s probably not to spite you. Address the problem, provide an action plan, and get back to business.

Management problem number 4 is everyone’s favorite: Micromanaging

Even those who like having direction and want as many facts as possible don’t want every aspect of their jobs managed. Always looking over people’s shoulders inhibits learning and innovation, and it makes people feel disrespected. If you have an employee who needs closer management because they are not succeeding, this should be addressed via a performance improvement plan. It should be the exception not the rule.

If you feel the tendency to micromanage arise, as yourself these questions:

Once you’ve talked yourself down, step back. Be prepared to offer advice if mistakes are made, but be open to other ways of doing things, too!

Management problem number 5, the Mac Daddy of them all: Lack of Communication

Really any of the above problems could be broadly characterized as “communication problems” if you really think about it. Not being transparent about what you expect and not letting people know how they are doing is the fast track to employee disengagement. No matter how much we want it to be so, no employee is a mind reader.

Self-awareness is the key to avoiding management pitfalls. Contact your Omnia Client Success representative to learn more about our development reports geared toward managers and their employees. These can help you identify your strengths and challenge areas and avoid costly turnover, to avoid being a Darla.

People are complicated, and no two of your employees are exactly alike. When you have that many different perspectives in your workplace, conflict is bound to happen. While conflict can sometimes lead to healthy competition and innovation, left unchecked or undirected, it can have damaging effects on the organization. As a leader, the responsibility to resolve these issues often falls on you. We’ll provide some practical guidance for how to do so effectively.

The Importance of Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is the art of diffusing tension between parties to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Put simply, it’s helping your employees get along. Leaders need to know how to handle conflict in the workplace. One study found that 85% of employees deal with conflict in their working lives, and it costs U.S. companies an estimated $359 billion annually (

Even though your plate is full, it’s important to address problems quickly and fairly. If you don’t, a situation could escalate and result in lost productivity, poor team morale, a lack of faith in your leadership abilities, and more.

How Common is Workplace Conflict?

In a word, very. CPP found that 85% of both individual contributors and leaders agreed they experienced some amount of inevitable conflict at work. In addition, 29% of all employees said that they experienced almost constant conflict. Tellingly, 12% said they also saw conflict frequently among leaders (

Is conflict always negative? No.

By any definition, negative examples of conflict in the workplace include:

But notice that healthy, positive conflict can include:

When You Should Step In

While you’re ultimately responsible for the harmony and productivity within your team, you don’t have to spring to action as soon as your employees disagree. Instead, encourage workers to find common ground on their own. That way, you can focus on more urgent matters, and your team members can hone their conflict resolution skills.

It may be helpful to know that “it's estimated that as many as 90 percent of all conflicts result from misunderstandings (” That goes for work and personal relationships. By communicating new policies about conflict and modeling good behavior, prohibiting all forms of harassments and disrespect, and bad treatment based on differences, you can be ahead of the curve.

However, if your staff can’t get past their differences and work together civilly, then you’ll need to play the role of mediator. You should also get involved immediately if you become aware of harassment, theft, violence, substance abuse, or illegal activity. In these instances, you must act quickly to prevent harm to employees and the company.

Pro Tip: Have, adhere to, and enforce a company-wide conflict resolution policy. That way, it’s clear what needs to happen in a given situation.

The Leader as a Mediator

When you need to intervene in an employee conflict, follow these best practices:

Once team members have reached a consensus, follow up periodically to see if the solution is working and if the employees are getting along.

Conflict Prevention

Wouldn’t it be nice if you never had to deal with another employee conflict? Unfortunately, that’s not a realistic goal. However, you can reduce the number of incidents that come your way with some prevention tips:

How Omnia Can Help

When you have a strong sense of self-awareness and know your team members well, preventing and resolving conflict becomes much easier. You’ll know exactly how to approach specific circumstances and people. Acquiring this deep knowledge can take years of observation and interactions.

But there is a faster way - taking and administering a behavioral assessment. Omnia’s well-regarded assessment has a track record of success. It’s fun and easy to take, and when you get the results, you’ll instantly know more about yourself and your employees. With this insight, you’ll be well on your way to a more pleasant work environment.

Final Thoughts

Unchecked conflict can wreak havoc on team morale and company achievement, so you need to act fast when the situation calls for it. By exercising good judgment and flexing your mediator muscles, you can restore harmony and productivity in no time. If you’d like to learn more about how behavioral assessments can help you keep the peace, contact us today!

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