Managing conflict in a remote environment with Kimberly Bringas

Consider using conflict as an opportunity to connect.

Stylized headshot of Kimberly Bringas

Our People Heroes series celebrates People leaders across the globe. These insights were pulled from our conversation with Kimberly Bringas on the New World of Work podcast.

The shift to remote work has brought a ton of changes to the corporate world, but one area that many companies are still grappling with is conflict resolution. No one enjoys having difficult conversations, and it takes a special kind of person to be able to step in and approach a sensitive situation with grace and understanding. That person is Kimberly Bringas. 

Meet Kimberly Bringas, Leadership Development Partner Lead at Drizly

Kimberly is the Leadership Development Partner Lead at Drizly, a platform that enables alcohol commerce by connecting established brick-and-mortar retailers with consumers. In her role at Drizly, she works with leadership to identify development opportunities as their teams scale. She also coaches leadership on their pain points and growth opportunities to ensure they’re maximizing their potential as leaders.

Most of Kimberly’s experience has been in the tech world, with just over 10 years in the industry under her belt. She started out as an office manager, pivoted into operations, moved into HR, and then at Drizly, shifted into an organizational development role that’s specifically focusing on leadership development. 

She's been doing the #RemoteLife—as she puts it—for over seven years now, starting in her previous role at Olark. She wasn’t initially attracted to the role because of the remote aspect, but eventually found herself a remote working advocate, as she fully supports people working in the environment that best suits them.

What we learned from Kimberly about managing conflict in a remote environment

1. Mindset is everything

“Making a simple mindset switch to reframe conflict as an opportunity instead of a disturbance can help us all find a more positive approach to resolution and understand one another on a deeper level.”

A simple shift in mindset can help us look at conflict as an opportunity, rather than an inconvenience. While some conflicts are certainly less than pleasant, there’s value in looking at the positive. Viewing issues as opportunities empowers us all to find more constructive solutions to problems and gives us a chance to be more vulnerable with our teammates about how we’re really feeling.  

2. Continuous feedback is essential

“[Healthy conflict] is seeing our conflict as a way to connect, to engage, talk with folks—and then also just getting feedback along the way—both positive and constructive.”

Creating a working environment where everyone feels comfortable giving and receiving feedback is key. And in a remote working environment, it’s an integral part of building trust. The more we encourage one another to engage in an ongoing dialogue rooted in honesty, the more innovative and collaborative we’ll all be at work.

3. Find small ways to form connection

“You don't really know what the answer is unless you ask. So that's where a lot of that intentionality comes into play and just checking in on each other.”

When working remotely, a quick check-in with a colleague can mean so much. It helps us foster empathy and sensitivity towards our peers, and is such a simple way to build authentic connections with the people you’re working with everyday. When we have a better understanding of where people are coming from, it makes approaching disagreements or challenges that much easier. 

What’s next for Kimberly

When it comes to addressing conflict, Kimberly says her vision for the Drizly team is to continue fostering a culture of healthy conflict and continuous feedback. She believes adopting this approach, especially as Drizly scales, will be critical for their team’s success. 

Something else Kimberly is working on is creating quarterly business reports for leaders across the company that marry storytelling with data. It’s her aim to create narratives around People numbers and give leaders context to help humanize that data. Part of the reason this is such a priority is because of how quickly Drizly is growing. As they continue to add headcount every day, she doesn’t want to lose the stories that make employee data real and actionable. 

If you’d like to hear more from Kimberly about building connection through conflict, check out her episode of the New World of Work podcast.  

About Oyster 

Oyster is a distributed HR platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. It lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches or the expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll and great local benefits and perks.

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