1. Don’t ignore conflict and hope it will go away – it won’t go away without intervention. As a leader be proactive in taking control and enlisting the type of intervention YOU decide will be the most effective and beneficial. Leave it too long and intervention might come in other forms eg. A valued and productive team member resigning.
2. Deal with it before it spreads – It’s human nature that individuals experiencing conflict or frustration enlist “supporters” in their perspective. This behaviour can transpire to an “us and them” culture beginning to form in your team.
3. Speak face to face to the people involved to get their individual perspectives – You can’t properly assess a situation if you don’t know the detail involved. Go into these conversations with an open mind wanting to learn – about this person’s experience and perspective. If you go in having already made a judgement, not only is your leadership lacking authenticity, you might miss the important details that will help you determine the depth and impact of the conflict, and the type of intervention required to resolve it. (note: These meetings should be face to face as a means of you demonstrating your genuine interest in the importance of this issue; you demonstrating the value of each of your team members, and; your demonstration of the seriousness, and urgency required to resolve this issue – you do not tolerate ongoing conflict in your team.)
4. Acknowledge – what needs to be acknowledged for each individual. As a leader it is your responsibility to discern what is “reasonable” or not, according to your knowledge of your team, their roles and your organisation’s requirements for behaviour. For low level conflict, your acknowledgement may be the only intervention required.
5. Challenge – the individual’s involved to broaden their perspectives. Encourage them to see the perspective of the other. Things are generally more complicated than one person being “right” and the other “wrong”. Consider the possibility of personality differences and personal preferences playing a role in this conflict.
6. Choose an appropriate intervention – based on the information you have gained from your conversations with your team, you are equipped to make a plan to knock this conflict on the head! The intervention of acknowledging and challenging may have been enough – your team can get back to work in the understanding that their preferences and personalities are always going to be different, and that’s ok. OR, is the acknowledging and challenging you’ve done not sufficient to resolve this, and you need to take action? In consultation with those involved, taking action could mean:
8. Enlist an expert if required – Clearly I have a conflict of interest in saying this! But conflict can be complex, and as a leader you have a broad range of responsibilities, you can’t be an expert in everything! If you need space to talk things over I am available for a free case consultation on the phone. 0417 399 512.