Whether you’re the coach of a team or the manager in an office, conflict management is a major part of any leadership position. Any time a number of people are working together, disagreements are bound to arise. Maybe two individuals have different ideas of how to accomplish a certain task, or perhaps perceived slights and offenses are coming to a head. Whatever this issue is, a good manager must know how to handle these crises and make them constructive rather than destructive. A properly handled conflict can actually be a valuable opportunity for growth and increased understanding rather than a disaster. Here are four techniques managers can use to manage a conflict in the office.
Plan an Honest, Open Discussion
No conflict will ever resolve itself. Warring factions need to be brought together to discuss whatever it is that has them at loggerheads. This is where a manager steps in to be the mediator. A good leader arranges a meeting and works to keep the atmosphere respectful. Step in if things become too emotional, and insist that there will be no mudslinging or name calling allowed.
A leader should try their best to remain neutral during a conflict in the workplace. Any indication that you are taking sides will only increase the frustration and tension. Listen carefully to what both parties have to say, and make it clear that your position is that which is best for the team.
Search for Compromise
The end result should be a compromise that leaves both parties feeling happy. Ideally, each faction will feel their concerns have been properly alleviated and their needs sufficiently met. A manager’s job is to guide them toward such a solution.
Turn the Conflict Into an Opportunity for Growth
The best possible outcome for a workplace conflict is not a short-term compromise, but a lasting understanding. Take advantage of the conflict and the conversation it brings about to push your team members to learn more about each other. This could be the opportunity you have waiting for to get everybody on the same page. A skilled manager can build strong foundations from a resolved conflict.
Conflict resolution is a vital aspect of any manager’s job. There is more than one way to manage a workplace clash, and a strong leader always looks to refine their techniques. Consider programs like the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument to pick up new strategies and improve as a manager.
Emma is a freelance writer based out of Boston, MA. She writes most often on health and education. When not writing, she enjoys reading and watching film noir. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2