Assume Good Intentions: In all cases, assume that your peers are operating under the best of intentions. Refuse to believe that your teammates are intentionally making mistakes, creating problems, or being difficult. Assume that everyone you work with is trying to do good work.
Put the Client First: Whenever you recognize a problem or challenge, make the decision to put the customer first. Instead of focusing on what you need, what someone else needs, or your competing priorities, turn your attention to what your client needs. This isn’t easy, but your business exists to serve the client, and your internal conflicts cannot come at the client’s expense.
Have the Courage to Go First: Numbers one and two are not easy, but someone has to go first. Make that someone you. You must be the one to enter conversations with the intention of helping, of resolving issues or moving forward. You be the diplomat. Expect others to be defensive and to question your motives until they understand your sincerity.
Put the Relationship Above Any Challenge: When dealing with challenges, put your relationship with your teammates above the challenge. There is no reason to destroy a relationship with a peer over a challenge that will eventually be resolved. By putting the relationship first, you build the capacity to handle greater challenges together, and you engender trust.
Communicate Openly and Honestly: Many of the challenges you face inside your company can be resolved or improved with open, honest conversation. Much of the time mistakes are made or problems persist because they aren’t addressed candidly (and following the rules above). Resolving issues begins with communicating about what the issue is, the implications of it persisting, and why it is important to do something now.
Be Willing to Renegotiate Commitments: You are always going to have competing priorities that drive people on the same team in seemingly opposite directions. You need something now, and your teammate has a looming deadline. You, meaning both of you, must be willing to renegotiate your commitments to go back to Rule 2 (Put the Client First). This may also require that you negotiate with your company for additional resources when all else fails. This willingness to renegotiate commitments allows you to find a way forward.
In Conflict, Collaborate: Conflict is a funny thing. Most of the time, it is unnecessary, an emotional response that does nothing to produce a better outcome and damaging relationships. But, conflict always gives rise to collaboration. There is always something that can be done, some change that can be made, some solution found. Instead of focusing on “the person” you focus on “the problem.” By doing so, you’ll find you have smart, client-oriented teammates who care as much of you do—and who may be more resourceful than you know.
Trust Your Team: The foundation of all relationships is trust. You must trust your team to do their job, and they have to trust you to do yours. You may not always understand why they do what they do, nor them, you. Your team is charged with generating certain outcomes, and you have to let them do their job, just like you want them to let you do your job. Give them your confidence and your support.
Treat Your Peers Like They’re Clients: There is a power in service. It changes the nature of relationships. Caring enough to help someone with their challenges tends to create trust and reciprocity on the part of the person you are serving. Instead of treating your teammates as obstacles, treat them as another type of client. Help them with their challenges and create a relationship where they are always willing to help you.