We Can Work It Out: Inaction As The Best Course Of Action

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We had our first parent-teacher conference. My nerves were quickly calmed when I learned what a bright little girl I have. We discussed where she was succeeding and areas that she needed to work on. The primary area of development is conflict resolution. The teachers are working on taking more of a “backseat” when the kids disagree. If it’s a fight over a toy then they provide some coaching to the child, but they don’t immediately become the mediator. They ask “What did you say when he said he didn’t like your hat?” and “Did you tell her how that made you feel?”. They suggested we work on this at home. My Husband and I are trying, although yesterday resulted in the kids throwing books at each other.

This isn’t the first time it’s been recommended I take a step back.

About a year ago I sat in a meeting with an executive manager and watched as he glanced at his Blackberry every few minutes. I was surprised to see that he never typed on the device during the meeting. At the first break I commented, “You must get a lot of emails”. He responded “Yes, but I find that most of these issues resolve on their own. If I step back and give it time, people work out their own problems.” That was eye opening. It’s such a simple concept but as a novice manager I was under the impression that one of my primary responsibilities was to manage conflict resolution.

The truth is, as a manager, one of my primary responsibilities is to grow the skill sets of my team. One of the most valuable skills an employee can develop is conflict resolution.

I provide suggestions like discussing problems in person, not through email. If people are divided over the appropriate course of action I’ll weigh in, if asked. But, if I interject every time there’s disagreement then no one benefits. Sometimes inaction is the best action a manager can take. Not to say that you shouldn’t get involved if someone throws a book.

When has your inaction been a positive action?


Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.

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