Conflict in the workplace is just a part of life. Everybody is different and therefore it would be unrealistic to expect everybody to get on all the time.
The tough part is knowing when to mediate and when to manage in such a situation. In this article we give you a little helping hand.
When To Mediate
The process of mediation is where you act as a facilitator between different parties. The object in this situation is to help them find common ground so that they can work towards a mutually agreeable situation.
Mediation is often more relevant when a conflict has become personal between two colleagues. The damage that might result requires a manager to intervene and help both sides to appreciate each other’s point of view. The long term future of the team and the way that colleagues work together can often be affected by conflict between individuals.
There are also times when you might need to mediate between two senior colleagues rather than your team members. This works best where you have respect from both people involved.
When mediating, a crucial technique is to get the issue down in writing. This helps to take away the emotion in the conflict. Make sure that both agree what the issue. You may find sometimes that this is all your need to solve the issue. This is because it may just be a misunderstanding about what the issue is.
If there is still a divide between the two people find out the intention for them behaving in this way. Keep asking this until you find something in common such as ‘To do the best for the team’ or ‘To meet our objectives’.
When To Manage
Sometimes there will be times when colleagues argue about what should be a priority within the team. This is less about personalities and more about being clear in your instructions. It is also about the overall objectives of the team and the organisation. In this situation you will need to clarify the goals and what you expect of everybody. It is also worth discussing how future disagreements on priorities should be handled.
In this circumstance it may be you that has caused the problem between team members and therefore it is more of a management issue. Once you have clarified priorities consider how you will deal with this situation in the future. What do you need to do to change the way you explain tasks to avoid any future ambiguity?
Handling conflict can be difficult in the workplace. Knowing when to mediate and when to manage can be vital to preserving relationships. If you would like MTD to help you build a strong, respectful and productive team please contact us for in-house training and team building events.
Head of Training
Originally published: 22 July, 2013
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