As a manager, or even as a management trainee, you’re going to spend a significant amount of time focusing on how to deal with conflict as it arises. No two situations are going to be alike, so you’ll find having a grasp upon a handful of different strategies to be more beneficial than not.
Before you can decide upon a conflict management strategy, you must ask yourself three main questions:
1. Who is involved in the conflict at hand? Are they individuals, teams, departments, or a combination of each?
2. Why are these individuals or groups in conflict with each other? Is it personal or professional?
3. How serious is the conflict? Is it brewing just under the surface, is it growing in intensity, or does it need immediate attention?
There are a myriad of ways to deal with conflict, but here are a few of my favourites:
Avoid the conflict. It seems as though this is not a strategy at all, but if you are consciously monitoring a conflict while avoiding it, you’ll be able to intervene if it becomes necessary. Avoidance tends to work very well if two employees are involved in a simple disagreement and are likely to come to their own conclusions without help.
Find a compromise. Meet with both parties, understand their points of view, and figure out what each one can give up in order to make the other happy. Each should find the resolution to be palatable in some way, shape, or form. They will each be forced to stand down on some issues while maintaining their positions on others, but no one person will be forced to completely give up on his or her ideas.
Stage a confrontation. Confrontations can be scary and stressful, but sometimes allowing all parties involved in a conflict to air their views is enough to make the conflict go away. Everyone involved will have to verbalize their positions and reasoning. This gives each participant enough information to come to and agree upon a logical conclusion. Confrontation should be used carefully, however, as some individuals will perceive the situation as a personal attack and walk away feeling hurt.
Being able to identify and resolve conflict will allow you to keep your organisation running as smoothly as possible. You’ll be able to control the situation and practice effective delegation while making sure your projects are completed despite the setbacks conflicts sometimes cause!