Defuse the Dispute: Top Conflict Management Strategies Leaders Must Know
Every leader, sooner or later, rarely or regularly, will be faced with a conflict situation they have to resolve. Your team members might disagree over the way a project should be completed. There may be a conflict of working styles. Or a simple clash of personalities.
Whatever the problem, a conflict management strategy can help to defuse a dispute quickly and effectively. Employing one of these strategies successfully will eliminate the problem, demonstrate your leadership skills and provide motivation for the rest of your team.
But which strategy should you use? This will depend upon the situation you’re faced with. You need to gather as much information as possible before you decide upon a conflict management strategy. Listen to both sides of the story, understand the root of the problem and then figure out which of these approaches is most likely to get the results you’re looking for:
Confronting involves getting two disagreeing parties to meet with each other and discuss the problem situation. This is best done as soon as you notice that a conflict has arisen and requires a level of open and direct communication from you as their leader. Insist that learning about the other perspective and building common ground is the aim and encourage the two parties to give their take on things. As mediator you can hopefully help them to reach a consensus on the issue in question.
Compromise is sometimes seen as win-win scenario. Equally, it can also be seen as lose-lose. Neither party is going to get exactly what they wanted. Both parties are going to have to give up something they wanted to stand by. To make it more palatable, a compromise should be seen within the context of the larger team. Each party will have to make a concession in order to benefit the greater good, the progress of team projects and the harmony of the office environment.
Forcing is a difficult strategy to execute well. It requires you to be confident and forceful in order to take the side of one person against another and impose a resolution. This strategy should only be used when all other strategies have been exhausted and the conflict is at an impasse. If you opt for this strategy, you’ll have to be alert to any fallout. The party who didn’t get what they wanted may develop a grudge, leaving you with more problems to solve further down the line.
Sometimes making a big deal out a small conflict can do more harm than good. If you’re confident that a conflict is little more than a storm in a teacup, it may be worth avoiding the issue altogether. Leaving your team members to work it out amongst themselves without the boss wading in can be more productive than the alternative. Just keep a close eye on the situation. You need to be able to step in right away if the situation looks like it’s getting worse.
Developing an open and communicative work culture can really help prevent conflict situations from arising in the first place. And if your team are also valued, motivated and well-resourced you may find yourself dealing with fewer disputes as time goes on.
However, when you do come across a problem, employ one of these strategies to bring a conflict to a speedy resolution. And always tread carefully. If you’re worried you have a serious dispute on your hands, you need to follow HR protocol in order to keep within the rules of employment law. Sit down with your HR manager before taking any steps if you’re worried about an escalation.
About the author:
Experienced in the fields of education and careers, Sienna Walker is a business blogger, currently writing on behalf of DirectorStats. With her unquenchable love for writing, Sienna often writes for business owners who wish to improve their management skills, but also for young, motivated people entering the workforce. Feel free to follow her on @SiennaWalkerS.