3 Key Conflict Management Strategies Every Leader Needs To Know
The definition of a team is “to come together for a common purpose or goal” - whilst in theory and on paper seems perfect, in reality a different picture is painted. Business and team leaders often find themselves in the position of peacemaker when two team members butt heads, or where there is tension within a group, which in turn can lead to a greater divide and a feeling of ‘side taking’ within an organisation.
Whilst having empathy for colleagues and employees is a bonus, it can muddy the waters of management when conflict arises. Many leaders struggle when faced with quarrels among team members, leaving matters to fester without resolution - if this sounds familiar, these 3 strategies for managing conflict are just what you and your team need.
Set ground rules
Whilst it may seem a long process to create a Code of Conduct for your workforce, by setting the tone from the offset in terms of the expected culture of the company, you are pathing the way for clear and concise resolutions of conflict. Better to set out the rules at the beginning, then to simply create them out of necessity further down the line.
Understand the difference between opinion and conflict
Whilst there is a strong belief in everyone having a right to an opinion, there are ways and means of voicing that opinion that lead to varied outcomes. Some like to play Devil’s Advocate to challenge and entice reaction, seemingly for the fun of it. Although this may seem antagonistic, it can be seen as conflict, when it fact it is mere opinion, voiced firmly. As a leader, learning to explore the ways in which you can diffuse tension around these conversations, by taking a step back, allowing the person to speak and then discussing rather than confronting, you will begin to see the long term benefits not only in terms of management style but team reactions.
Remember, disagreements are not detrimental, unless handled poorly.
Know when to intervene & when to step back
The most wise parent knows that to interfere in sibling squabbles is a sure fire way to worsen the situation. Likewise, as a leader, you can run the risk of escalating a spirited exchange of opinions by getting involved prematurely. We recommend encouraging all parties to meet in a neutral location, like a conference room as opposed to one person’s office, to try to work it out themselves in the first instance.
Engaging in conversations and situations of this kind is complicated and uncomfortable, however it’s important to forge a strong team spirit and ensure a measured and fair outcome is reached.
Let’s discuss how we can support your organisations journey towards proactive conflict resolution. Please contact Katy.firstname.lastname@example.org (PA to Suzanna Prout, MD)