Suzan Bond on navigating conflict on remote teams

Lead Time Chats: Season 4, Episode 4 Takeaways

In this episode of Lead Time Chats, Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range, chats with Suzan Bond, Leadership Consultant and Executive Coach, about navigating conflict on remote teams.

Suzan and Jean discuss:

  • How conflict shows up differently on remote teams (more conflict avoidance than outbursts)
  • Being curious about areas of disagreement, rather than being terrified of conflict
  • Designing upfront how you want to be in disagreement in your work relationships
  • How simply naming the tension or disagreement can help create a path forward
  • Why you should avoid resolving conflict through a third party - and how to coach people to speak directly to each other first

Takeaways from Suzan

Everyone has their own style of addressing conflict

“What are our reasons for conflict? And I think style is a really big one. For me, I'll hear people, I'm like, well, "Did you talk to them about that? Have you talked about how the two of you are disagreeing rather than what do we do?" We make them wrong or "ah they're so frustrating and they don't know how to do it," or we call people incompetent sometimes when we don't agree with their style. They may or may not be incompetent, but often what I find is that we're not actually having the conversation between the two of us so many times when I hear people talking about that, it's always encouraging them to go back to talk to each other and have that real conversation.”

Disagreement is normal. It’s how we handle it that matters.

“We think conflict is bad. A couple of weeks ago at Lead Dev I did two workshops for leaders there. When I said the word conflict, you could just feel the room contract, and I think that's actually part of the roadblock, right? I think we also have to normalize that disagreement is normal. Disagreement is okay. In any relationship we're going to disagree. You and I are in relationship right now as we talk. We may or may not agree on things. That's okay. How do we want to be with disagreement and knowing that it's part of the relationship? It's how we handle it that matters more.”

Resolve conflict by removing the middle person

“I think what happens is we shy away from it. We don't want to talk about it, but it's like naming the thing that's in the room, it's the elephant. The elephant is crowding us out, which is the thing that's unsaid, and now we can barely interact with each other, and I think what happens is we're having an argument in our head and then we begin to make the other person wrong, or we make ourselves wrong and then we'd try to change, but changing the way that you interact in your style, your natural style, assuming it's in healthy expression, that's really hard. So it is really about go right to it. I think a lot of times we pick intermediaries. Let's just cut out the middle person.”

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About Lead Time Chats

Listen in on unscripted conversations between Jean Hsu, VP of Engineering at Range and other leaders in tech to help you make remote teamwork a little bit less challenging.

Lead Time Chats is brought to you by Range. Range helps remote teams work better together — with asynchronous check-ins, integrated team-building, fewer and more effective meetings, and easy goal-tracking. When you run your team with Range, you’ll always know what’s going on — without having to be in back-to-back meetings.

Checking-in with Range creates more focus time for heads-down work, all while feeling a deeper sense of connection and belonging with your team.

To learn more about Range, you can check it out here.

Season 4 Episodes

» Episode 1: Najeeb Khan on Fostering Belonging on Remote Teams

» Episode 2: Hong Quan on Hiring for Remote Teams

» Episode 3: Jori Lallo on Working Effectively Across Timezones

Season 3 Episodes

» Episode 1: Jen Kim on how startups can hire better

» Episode 2: Kate Heddleston on managing burnout on your team

» Episode 3: Jessie Duan on the Chief of Staff to CTO role

» Episode 4: Dan Na on pushing through friction

» Episode 5: Pat Kua on flavors of tech leadership

» Episode 6: Anna Sulkina on Endurance Sports and Software Engineering

Season 2 Episodes

» Episode 1: Camille Fournier on making boring plans

» Episode 2: Tess Rinearson on early career engineering managers

» Episode 3: Kim Scott on building for systemic justice

» Episode 4: Sumeet Arora on moving on from a big company

» Episode 5: Rachael Stedman on IC manager work

» Episode 6: Chris Bee on Behaviors of Effective Eng Leaders

» Episode 7: Lynne Tye on the Engineering Hiring Landscape

» Episode 8: Beau Lebens on Distributed Team Meetups

» Episode 9: Indrajit Khare on Getting Acquired by Google

» Episode 10: Jack Danger on Technical Debt

» Episode 11: Sarah Milstein on Successful Remote and Hybrid Teams

Season 1 Episodes

» Episode 1: Will Larson on the path of the senior engineer

» Episode 2: Duretti Hirpa on mentoring junior and mid-level engineers

» Episode 3: Cate Huston on working with an external coach

» Episode 4: Juan Pablo Buriticá on common eng manager mistakes

» Episode 5: Gergely Orosz on the decision to go into management

» Episode 6: Lara Hogan on leading effectively in a pandemic

» Episode 7: Kaya Thomas on common early career engineer challenges

» Episode 8: Uma Chingunde on starting a VPE role in a pandemic

» Episode 9: Katie Wilde on supporting your team's mental health

» Episode 10: Akhil Gupta on navigating uncertainty in new roles

» Episode 11: Harper Reed on giving everyone a voice in team meetings

» Episode 12: Marc Hedlund on sponsorship

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S4 E4: Suzan Bond on Navigating Conflict on Remote Teams
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