Even some of the most high performing and successful teams can experience conflict between certain group members. Teams are often put together for the mix of skills and perspectives and although this provides a well rounded group, there is also going to be the risk of clashing opinions and experiences which can cause problems.
If not managed effectively and efficiently, a small conflict between a pair of individuals can quickly grow to engulf the whole team as well as having a potentially detrimental impact on the overall performance.
How to manage conflict
As a manager, it is important to stay neutral in arguments and avoid assumptions as this can help to fuel the conflict and aggravate the already fragile situation. When you witness a situation getting out of hand, defusing it before it escalates can help to stop the conflict becoming an ongoing issue.
If a conflict does continue and start to impact the morale and performance of the team, that is the time to step in as a direct facilitator to resolve the issue. Inorder to do this effectively you should follow these 4 steps.
1. Individually speak to the team members involved
The first step on your mission to restore peace should be to organise an informal chat with the involved team members. Have a list of questions that you will ask each party involved, these questions should be identical to help you remain impartial. Make it clear to each individual that the conversation will remain confidential to help to encourage them to voice their concerns in a comfortable and safe environment.
2. Bring the conflicting parties together
Once you have views from both sides it is time to bring the conflicting parties together in a calm and moderated environment. As the mediator it is your job to ensure that the discussion does not become heated and you should step in if it begins to head in that direction. Ask the members to discuss their points of view and how they would like to move forward and what they need in order for this to be successful.
3. Put plans into action
After getting both parties involved to agree on a plan of reconciliation, it’s time to put plans into practice. It is important that both sides commit to the actions discussed and relevant individuals are held accountable for not holding up their end of the bargain.
4. Follow up
A key part of the conflict resolution process is to ensure that the issue has been resolved long term. The whole process will be a waste of time and resources if the longevity of the peace does not last. This is why it is important to make time for follow ups, these should be on an individual basis to avoid reigniting old arguments, sometimes an anonymous survey can work if there was a larger group involved within the conflict.
When faced with a challenging conflict situation, as a manager it can be hard to figure out the best way to achieve fast and effective resolution. Follow these steps to help but be sure to check with your HR department for any company policies and protocols that may already be in place.