Imagine working in an environment where all of your employees get along because they communicate effectively, respect differences, and use personal leadership skills to solve problems and resolve conflict? If this sounds impossible, it's not. With the right tools, you can create this type of environment.
Conflict Management is all about limiting the negative aspects of conflict and increasing the positive ones to get a desired result. Positive outcomes from conflict management might include greater self-awareness, growth and development, and advances in innovation and creativity. Negative consequences might consist of competition, disagreements, strained relationships, poor team dynamics, and low morale, productivity, and quality.
Conflict happens between employees because they have:
To manage conflict effectively, we should look at it as a process which has building blocks, instead of as a problem that we need to solve between parties. Thinking of conflict this way is more systematic and logical, which may help to relieve some of the negative emotion that is typically associated with conflict management. As with any process, it starts with identifying the source of the conflict and ends with a solution. The conflict management process includes:
Step 1: Identify the Source
Conflict, in its simplest terms, is a disagreement between two or more people that have different opinions or principles. Having a different view about a situation is neither good nor bad, it just is, when we look at it from a logical perspective. Where the differences in opinion do matter is when emotions get involved.
Conflict can arise for several reasons between employees, including:
Step 2: Analyze the Situation
After you identify the source of the conflict, the next step is to analyze the situation. To do this, you can ask questions to determine what is going on with the employees. A few questions you can ask include:
Step 3: Find Effective Solutions
Based on the analysis findings, develop a list of solutions and share them with the employees. Only recommend 2-3 options to make the selection process more manageable.
Step 4: Choose the Best Solution
Once you evaluate the solutions, the next step is to pick one. Let the employees provide their feedback about the proposed solution, and how well they think it will work. Also, ask them if they have other ideas on how they can work together better going forward to create buy-in.
If they cannot make a decision, offer your feedback, provide insights, and share best practices that have worked for you. Choose the best option based on your experience about things that worked well in the past that may be a fit for this situation. You can also test a few of the options to see what works and then make a decision.
Step 5: Implement the Solution
Once you decide on the solution, the next step is to tell everyone affected by it and then implement it. This step may seem self-explanatory, but it's not uncommon for people to develop solutions that they do not use, so create the plan and execute it.
Step 6: Evaluate the Impacts
For the conflict management process to work, there must be constant communication, so you can make changes when and where needed. Check-in to see what's working and what's not. Ask questions to determine the gaps between what "should be" happening and what is "actually" happening. Offer suggestions if the employees are unable to come up with alternative solutions.
The conflict management process also requires that you use influence and persuasion techniques to keep everyone inspired and motivated to keep going. Some days the employees may need a gentle push to continue, others, a slight pull. Know your people and do what works best based on past experience and current needs. Also, be open to asking what they need, if the normal channels stop working.
Until next time...
Latarsha Horne is an ICF Credentialed Coach who helps new and emerging leaders feel more confident, decisive and empowered to take charge and do their jobs. Her coaching style is energy-action based, open-minded, and straight-forward. If you want to be challenged and grow, she's the coach for you.