If you have been managing people, you must have discovered by now, that members of the same team don’t always get along. In theory, they should be working toward the same goals, but in reality, one should consider the competition, ambitions and personal agendas. So, as a leader, what should be your role in resolving conflict in the workplace?
The ideal strategy would be to coach your team members to solve their problems on their own before the situation gets out of hand and eventually harm the organization’s interests of maintaining a peaceful and coherent work environment.
But when this turns out to be too idealistic, you need to step in. Not as an authority or a boss but a mediator at first. Try to convince them that instead of proving who is right and who is wrong, they should focus their energy toward reaching an agreement that would benefit all parties involved.
Unresolved conflict often arises when negative emotions are left to fester. So, make sure you meet with the conflicting colleagues separately in the beginning to give them space to vent.
Recent research shows that when a manager listens to gain an understanding of the problem, he builds empathy and gets an objective perspective of the conflict.
A joint meeting can also be an opportunity to clear the air between colleagues. However, before proceeding, make certain that you can control the outcome, or else the meeting can turn into a power argument, ending terribly.
When things get tricky and you’re uncertain your colleagues will follow through what has been discussed, try reaching different approaches to the agreement:
If despite all efforts, the conflict isn’t resolved, only then you can take the role of the boss and impose rules and consequences. Just let them know the reasoning behind such decision and that it wasn’t the path you desired.