No one likes conflict, especially when you’re responsible for ensuring it doesn’t get out of hand.
Effective conflict management means a positive work and team environment.
And, if you don’t address conflict promptly, it can be nothing short of toxic to your culture and could cost you your best people.
If you do discover a conflict though, here are some strategies for finding a resolution.
#1: Gauge the mood
As a leader, it can be a lot to keep up with everything going on in your team.
Which makes tuning into the mood really important.
When assessing a situation, make sure you’re coming at it neutrally. Do you have preconceived ideas, could there be unconscious bias to address? These are important questions to ask.
#2: Are you listening?
When managing the conflict, never underestimate the importance of active listening, i.e. maintain eye contact, paraphrase, and ask clarifying questions.
It’s important to be fully engaged throughout, giving undivided attention.
You want this thing resolved, right?
#3: Stepping into someone else’s shoes
Both parties may feel like they have done nothing wrong when, in reality, “it takes two to tango”.
Get them to step into each other’s shoes & understand how the other person might be feeling. Often, by getting them to take a step back and see things from a different lens, they’ll realise that they may have influenced this situation too.
#4: Navigate challenging conversations
Create a safe space by discussing the importance of establishing an open and non-judgmental environment.
Use “I” Statements so both parties express their thoughts and feelings assertively without blame or accusation.
#5: Keep the pot from boiling over
Manage your emotions. Being a leader means having hard conversations in a professional manner.
Maybe not at the time, but in the end, people will appreciate honesty if it’s delivered fairly.
And if things start getting heated, be the cooling presence. It’s amazing what a few deep breaths can do.
#6: Find common ground
We could say aim for a win-win situation, but that’s not always easily available.
No matter how you approach it, someone will feel like they lose. Refocus those involved on a common goal and reset towards that.
- Gauge the mood
- Make sure you listen
- Have them step into each others shoes
- Navigate challenging conversations
- Keep the pot from boiling over
- Find common ground
Remember, conflict is a natural part of managing teams. But, how we address those conflicts defines our success as leaders.