In order to be a great manager you must be able to learn how to properly manage conflicts at your workplace between team members. Otherwise you run the risk of operating a loose ship with teammates that don’t want to work with each other. The eventual outcome in this situation is that you will have to deal with very disgruntled team members that lead to disorganization and ruin the harmony of a highly functional team. The only way to prevent that situation from happening is to resolve all of the workplace conflicts before they escalate to something more damaging. If the manager steps in earlier than later, you can potentially salvage the team dynamics and build upon the conflict instead of having it tear the team down.
Solid Strategies for Conflict Management
- Make sure to take action immediately. Conflicts between two parties do not go away by themselves. If you do not resolve the conflicts immediately then they can harbor negative feelings towards each other than can linger and lie dormant for days, months or even years until the eventual outburst that leads to dismay. Team members that often bring up conflicts often feel as though no one is listening to them or that their voice isn’t heard throughout the organization, and will thus go and seek professional help. When you don’t resolve workplace conflicts quickly, the whole team dynamics are quickly affected and often can result in different team members taking sides. This will certainly impact productivity, overall performance and take a toll on many workplace relationships.
- Listen to the two conflicting sides separately. It is important that you, as the manager, thoroughly understand and listen to both sides of the conflict equally so that they don’t feel as though you are already siding with one person. Before intervening, it is critical to ensure both sides are heard so that you have all the right facts before making an informed decision. It is likely that there is just a lot of misunderstanding that happened and when you see both perceptions, you can help the two parties to try to find a common ground so that the conflicts can resolve before escalating to critical levels. Try not to judge who is right or wrong, and focus instead on what the needs of each person is. If you jump to judgment too quickly it can escalate the conflicts even further.
- Decide if you need additional help mediating the conflict. After you have had a chance to discuss the issue with both parties involved, you will have to make a decision on whether to involve more people into the issue or if you can handle the mediation yourself. It may actually be better to involve your HR department directly or look for an external mediator since you also want to maintain a proper professional relationship with both your team members. Often managers can resolve conflicts that are small or short-lived, such as those that happened for hours or days. But if there are more complex conflicts between team members that have lasted for months or years and are long-standing, then it might be better to involve mediators with a specific conflict resolution skill in order to resolve the conflicts in a manner that is pleasing for all parties.
- Plan the next steps as soon as you can. Make sure that you plan out what the next steps are for all parties involved. If you wait too long when making decisions or deciding what to do next, the longer the conflicts drag on for and the harder it will be to come to a resolution that is beneficial for the team and everyone involved.