Managing a team is seldom a popularity contest, as the matter of fact, it is more a series of stressful events accompanied by a large number of decisions to make in a short time frame. One of the roles that team managers have to take is mediation in case of a work disagreement between colleagues. It is imperative to handle such situations effectively in order to prevent a further escalation that could bring company operations to a stop. It’s up to the manager to find the best way to deal with the situation and make sure that the issue is solved with all sides leaving the incident behind.
There are many good techniques available to handle disagreements in various working environments, and following text reveals some of the best methods to reach a resolution.
Listen carefully to both sides
There are usually two sides of a story in all conflicts. The reason is not necessary because one side is refusing to tell the truth, on the contrary, more often the lack of communication or a misunderstanding amplify the tension and that’s the spark that starts the fire. In order to start solving the issue, it is necessary to carefully listen to each of the participants and start resolving the problem from that point. If it turns out that the cause of the problem is poor communication, this first suggestion is all a good manager needs to turn a bad situation into a good place to start improving team communication.
Leave personal affections aside
No matter how well we know one of the workers, how pleased we are with their performance and work results, this should not affect the way we handle a problem. Measure arguments on both sides and check their facts in order to see which side is right. Once the manager hears all the arguments, there should be no problem to reach the decision that will resolve the issue at hand.
Organize a team building
When there is a continuous disagreement or workers tend to have minor conflicts from time to time, it is a smart idea to organize an event where all of the team members could participate. These types of events have a positive effect on the collective atmosphere and bring people together. It could also help the manager pay closer attention how certain people act in the non-work-related environment. Simply put, sometimes the problem has nothing to do with work, and the answer resides much deeper.
Compromise when possible
There’s not a lot of people that like to hear they are wrong in an argument. In some cases, it is almost impossible to say which side is right either because of lack of arguments or neither side is absolutely right or wrong. The answer to this pickle is a compromise: the leader should make a decision that allows both sides to settle down and leave the argument behind. It’s not the easiest way to handle problems, but being a leader is never easy.
Stay calm at all times
Being nervous or loud won’t help anyone reach a peaceful solution, quite opposite, the sides in dispute could grow even more restless and deepen the problem, leading it to a place where it can even stay unresolved for a long time. While sorting out the disagreement leader should talk calmly and try to create a peaceful atmosphere so everyone would feel comfortable. Moreover, a calm and focused manager is better suited to settle the issues than the one that’s agitated.
Alexandra Hayes, an HR specialist for Superior Papers: “Instead of trying to talk team member out of the conflict, it could be beneficial to ask questions that would help the participants realize their role in the matter and reevaluate their position. The key to this technique is asking the right questions and not asking too many. Try to make your coworkers realize who is right on their own, but don’t go too far as it may seem you are trying to make a point, which could lead to a new problem.”
Act outside your position
Actors usually speak about their roles in the third person. They separate themselves from the person they play in a movie. This allows them to make a clear space between them and the people they act to be. The same goes while leaders deal with a certain conflict that could make a person think more about the other person than the issue. It is of paramount importance to keep the focus on the issue at all times, never focus on the person. Failing to keep the conflict at the center might seem as if a manager is pointing fingers, which is not the path any good leader wants to take.
Ask participants for an opinion
This technique allows managers to see what each of the sides expects from the conflict. Sometimes it is best to plainly ask what each of the colleagues has to say about the matter and how they think it should be resolved. This should be done in a calm manner, showing that you care about their view rather than appearing as if you’re out of ideas and just want to see which one is better.
There are occasions when the conflict is in a starting phase and it is up to team leader to be the first to recognize the possibility for a future escalation. It is never a good idea to wait until the conflicting sides reach out for a solution. Rather take control of the situation while it’s in development because it is much easier to handle simpler problems.
When people get into a conflict they often lose their perspective on the bigger picture. It is not unusual that stubbornness or heighten anxiety keep the participant from understanding the scale of the conflict against the size of the consequences that further confrontation holds. Point out to what is really important and the problem will be solved much quicker.
Look behind the curtain
Some people could have a secret agenda underneath the surface of an unsolvable conflict. If a problem is taking too long to resolve, it may be because one or all sides simply don’t want to solve the problem. In these types of situations, it is wise to ask yourself what could be the motive for the conflict? If it happens that person could have a hidden motive, think about your options and what would be the best way to handle the whole affair.
Wherever there’s more than one person in a room there is a chance for a conflict. Some conflicts could grow into long-term solutions that could even benefit the productivity and overall work atmosphere, some are less easy to resolve. Nevertheless, a good leader will go through all the options before making a hasty decision. With these techniques at your side, such kinds of battles are easier to win.
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