Within any close knit team, it is inevitable that not everyone will share the same opinions, or have personalities that are easily compatible. This is often highlighted within the workplace, where conflicts can arise between members of a department or team.
As a leader, the way you deal with these conflicts can make or break your team, strengthening ties or severing them completely. In situations where there is no clear right or wrong within the context of company rules, help members of your team to overcome conflict by following these three steps.
1. Acknowledge conflict
When signs of discord arise, it can be tempting to bury your head in the sand. Acknowledging conflict is awkward, but it’s important to do. Don’t ignore any signs of conflict, even from very early on. The earlier they are recognised, the earlier they can be dealt with and resolved.
Organise a discussion with those involved about how it is having an impact on work. Ensure you are not excluding anyone involved in the situation, as it could make matters worse if one member feels that they aren’t being listened to, or are being spoken about behind their back.
2. Understand the situation
When discussing the conflict, listen to the views of each team member is taken into account. Be aware of the opinions of those involved, including what they believe happened, and why they think the conflict came about.
Try not to prejudge, letting each member convey their feelings and emotions without interruption, so that everything is out in the open. This allows you to get an honest account of events before analysing them.
Keep the tone of the discussion calm and controlled, pausing for a break if it begins to get heated.
3. Reach an agreement
Everyone needs to agree on a single course of action. To do this, you need to listen to a suggest resolutions that take the interests of the whole team into account.
Each team member should explain how they would like the issue to be resolved, so that a compromise that meets both personal and business goals can be reached.
Rather than siding with a particular person, try to find ways that elements of each person’s preferences can be incorporated into a plan of action. If you disagree with a suggestion, explain your thinking rather than simply dismissing it.
Meet again within a month of reaching the agreement to see how things have worked. Find out whether the resolution had the desired effect, or whether another meeting needs to be planned to draw up a new plan of action.
If you would like to learn more about resolving conflict in the workplace, and handling a number of issues commonly faced by leaders, enquire about joining one of our leadership and management courses. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss your personal experiences with a group of other leaders at frequent meetup sessions.