How to Resolve Conflicts - 4 Tips for Managers
Many managers must, at some point, resolve conflict within their team. We’ll help you navigate through this tricky area of management in four easy steps.
Conflict is inevitable in high-pressure environments where there is a constant demand to achieve goals, hit targets and deliver on KPIs. It can happen intra-team (within the team) or inter-team (between teams). As a manager you need to understand what pressure and challenges your team face day to day.
It’s vital to understand how we ourselves create conflict. If we do, we can understand how to resolve conflict. If you can see how your own beliefs, prejudices and personality may be partly responsible for conflict you can modify your behaviour. You need to make sure that your team is self-aware and understand what part they play in creating conflict.
Here are four areas to address:
1. Build the right team mindset
Remind all parties that no one and nothing is against them; we’re all on the same team.
- We are each responsible for how we interact with others
- We are each responsible for how we react and treat others
2. Positive set up
If you’re trying to resolve a dispute, the physical environment makes a massive difference. Being in a neutral place free from stress and distractions means people will be more open and positive. This could be a meeting room, the board room, or off-site at a café. The key is that both parties in the dispute feel that it’s neutral ground.
Give both parties adequate time to prepare for the meeting. This will also allow people to cool down if emotions are running high. It’s natural to want to resolve a dispute as quickly as possible but resist the temptation to rush. It’s also important not to leave it too long, e.g. over a weekend. Ideally delay for a few hours, or overnight at the most.
3. Consider personality styles
Different personality or behavioural styles communicate differently. When people are under pressure, they revert to their natural behavioural style so that they feel more comfortable. Dominant personality profiles often create conflict with others. They tend to be aggressive and overpowering of others, which can lead to resentment. They also like challenges and thrive on high pressure. However, people can change their approach, so it’s important not to typecast anyone and expect them to react a certain way.
4. Master the mediator role
If the conflict requires an outside mediator, both parties must see that person as being impartial and trustworthy. Here are some tips to help you:
- You must care about the people involved
- Be non-judgemental and as impartial as possible
- Let all the parties feel empowered, rather than feel they are being rescued
- Facilitate and defend the resolution process
- Be open about sharing personal experience and vulnerability, if appropriate
- Define the conflict calmly
- Understand and respect each point of view without judgment
- Focus on interests, not positions
- Find win-win options fairly
Taking the lead in conflict resolution is an important responsibility. Solving conflicts quickly leads to higher achievement for the business because no one performs at their best when there are underlying issues that are ignored.
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