Internal strife inhibits growth

One of the biggest reasons companies call me for coaching and consulting is due to internal strife. They know it inhibits growth, but oftentimes are too close to the situation to see their way out of the chaos and into the creative opportunity for growth.

The first step in dealing with internal strife is identifying its root cause. After identification, a solution will create an opportunity for growth.
Identification stage:
There are five common reasons for internal strife:

  • Company merged or acquired another company: This creates strife because you have merged two different cultures, processes, procedures, communication systems, management teams, employees, etc. Which will you use? Until you get clear, you have internal strife due to confusion and internal competition focused on, “who’s way is better or more comfortable?”
  • Company has grown: While external growth is wonderful, it can often cause internal strife. What used to work may not work anymore and the infrastructure that once supported the company’s capacity may not support the new capacity.
  • Company has something new: Whenever there is anything new, i.e. a new customer, new machinery, new product and service or new management, you can bet it will cause internal strife until you get clear on how to handle what is new.
  • Clear goals, but unclear initiatives: The fear of success is real, and when leaders create aggressive goals, it can often create internal strife, until managers and employees see how they can reach those goals by working smarter rather than harder. The mind automatically believes one has to work harder until they see the creative possibilities for new markets and ideas that can catapult them to greater success, without working more hours.
  • Fear-based, vs. empowered culture: When companies are run by a “just do it” mentality “or else” management style, they are creating a fear-based culture that leads to internal strife. When managers and employees do not understand the vision, mission, values, goals and the “why” behind certain important initiatives, standards, processes and procedures, there is strife. It is difficult to be creative and to get the ball in the net, when you don’t even understand where the net is or how you add value to the game.

Solution stage:
While these may be different root causes for internal strife, there are three steps to solve internal strife: Clarity, collaboration and communication tools.
A leader’s job is to bring clarity to chaos which is often a result of change. To bring clarity, ask yourself, “What has changed and why?” Address why the companies merged, how the company has grown, or why something was added and is new. If it’s goals that have changed, bring clarity to the goals: why were they chosen? When we name the elephant in the room and explain why it is there, we free up vital energy that can now go towards creating solutions.
Once there is clarity about the elephant in the room, a leader’s job is to bring their team together to collaborate on solutions to handle the changes in a more efficient and effective manner. Giving managers and employees a voice in solutions helps them to feel empowered, because they are ultimately the ones responsible for executing. Collaboration doesn’t mean management is giving up their power, it means they are considering the input of the people who will have to ultimately be bought-into the change at hand. The difficultly with collaboration is semantics: often people are saying the same thing but using different words. Time can be wasted arguing semantics and who is right and who is wrong. That is the E.G.O. at work, looking for differences and who is right and who is wrong. Instead, listen to what you are saying that is the same.
Once there are agreed upon solutions, communication tools help the managers and employees put their creative solutions into practice. Communication tools may include: creating software reporting systems, documenting standards and procedures, approval forms and change orders, and so on. The key is to have these communication tools written down to help managers and their employees to operate in a way that is consistent and delivers extraordinary customer service as well as guarantees the company will also profit.
Identifying your root cause for internal strife, and following the three steps to solve internal strife, will help you to achieve the growth you desire.
Challenge: Where are you experiencing internal strife? How will you develop a three-step plan to fix it?
Susan K. Wehrley is the president of Susan K. Wehrley & Associates, and founder and CEO of BIZremedies, an online strategic growth community. She has been a strategic empowerment coach and consultant for 24 years, and is recognized nationally as an author of five books. You can learn more about her at

Susan K. Wehrley is an executive coach and business consultant that aligns executives and businesses to their vision, values and goals. She is also a regular contributor to Forbes. You can email Susan at, (262) 696-6856 or visit her website for more details.

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