As a leader, you may encounter a situation where you experience conflict with an employee.
Since this person reports to you, you may believe that you have all the power, and the employee should simply listen to you.
However, that is an ancient view of looking at the employer/ employee relationship; modern managers know the value their staff bring, and handle conflict in a different manner!
The first and most important aspect to keep in mind when having a conflict with an employee is to remain professional.
Individuals handle stressful situations in different ways, but as a boss, you must remember to keep calm and cool and handle yourself respectfully.
Take a minute to breathe and ground yourself, and choose your words carefully before you end up saying something you don’t mean.
Never make the conflict personal or threaten to fire the employee in the heat of the moment. Instead, ask the staff to meet with you in private at a later time, once everyone has cooled down, to discuss what happened.
Finally, don’t just ignore the conflict, as it will only get worse; dedicate the time needed to hash out grievances and make the situation right.
Be Open Minded
You are the boss, and have the authority and experience, but you must be open minded enough to consider your employee’s viewpoint.
Whatever the argument was about, you should be objective to listen to your staff, truly listen, and then make a decision about what to do next.
You never know, you just may surprise yourself and your team member by realising they were right all along!
Try to be empathetic, even if you feel disrespected, hurt or irritated.
Even if your employee was out of line and spoke to you in a rude manner, consider what factors can be causing them to act in this way.
Have they been working long overtime hours and are tired?
Or do they have personal problems happening at home?
Simply being empathetic to your staff can make them apologise for causing the conflict.
Be Strict (When the Need Arises)
In many situations, simply being empathetic and open-minded will resolve the conflict; however, there are times when employees are overly rude or argumentative, causing chaos in the office.
In this situation, you need to be strict and set up and follow through on consequences of inappropriate behaviour.
Review what your employee handbook states about conflict, and follow those rules; or amend the handbook so that all staff members are aware of what happens when they don’t follow the rules.
After all, as a manager, it is your job to keep your office running smoothly and peacefully.
Head of Training and Development
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Mark Williams is a learning and development professional, using business psychology and multiple intelligences to create fascinating and quickly-identifiable learning initiatives in the real-world business setting. Mark’s role at MTD is to ensure that our training is leading edge, and works closely with our trainers to develop the best learning experiences for all people on learning programmes. Mark designs and delivers training programmes for businesses both small and large and strives to ensure that MTD’s clients are receiving the very best training, support and services that will really make a difference to their business.