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Managing Conflict: Six Things NOT to Do

By Emilie Shoop (991 words)
Posted in Management on June 16, 2014

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Many new mangers struggle with how to deal with a conflict on their team.  Many, many seasoned managers struggle even more with how to deal with a conflict.  How you deal with conflicts on your team sets the tone for innovation, progress, and success on your team.

To succeed in helping your team resolve conflicts, there are several things you should always do, but perhaps more importantly, there are also things you should avoid.  Here are six ways you could be making a conflict worse, and a quick fix to make managing conflicts a little easier for you.


Managing Conflict:  Six Things NOT to Do


1.  Hiding Behind Closed Doors

Your team needs you to lead and set an example of what success looks like.  If you hide when there is a conflict, you are teaching your team to do the same.  Eventually, small conflicts will erode the cohesion of the team and everyone will be out for themselves.  


Quick fix:  Make yourself available to listen.  Often people just need to be heard.


2.  Being Too Bossy

Yes, you are the boss, but when there is a conflict on your team it is not always best to tell each person how to fix it.  The best results come from you assisting in the employees coming up with their own (often best) solution.  If not, you start to feel like a babysitter that has to pick who was right and who was wrong all the time.


Quick fix:  Ask each of the employees in the conflict what it is they want out of the situation?  Get them to articulate the best resolution and then help them execute.


3.  Forcing The Issue

The temptation to lock the two offending employees in a room until they work it out is extremely high.  While you do need to get your team back on track and conflicts resolved you do not want to force the issue.  There are usually a lot of emotions involved in a conflict that need to be resolved and can’t be rushed.


Quick fix:  Continue to recognize and bring attention to the fact that the conflict needs a resolution.  Offer to help until it is resolved.


4.  Belittling The Conflict

If it’s a conflict for one person, it’s a legitimate conflict.  Regardless of how petty or non-important it may seem to you, it’s imperative to realize that it is important to the other person.  Remember that little conflicts left unattended can turn into large, costly problems.


Quick fix:  Take time to listen to the complaint no matter how small.  Share how you see it from your point of view and suggest the next step to resolution.


5.  Owning The Conflict

As humans it’s easy for us to get caught up in someone else’s emotions.  As the leader, you will need to keep yourself one step removed from the conflict and try your best to not take it on as your own.  Many conflicts within companies can be tracked back to the leader taking on the employee’s point of view and running with it instead of helping resolve it.


Quick fix:  If you find yourself getting caught up and emotional, take a break from it.  Stop and think about why it is evoking emotions in you and the best way to assist the employee in resolving it.


6.  Ignoring Toxicity 

While every conflict has its roots, sometimes there is a common denominator in all of the conflicts you are helping resolve.  Is there someone on your team that is constantly unhappy, constantly complaining, or constantly being a roadblock for the team being productive?  As a manager, it is easy to get caught up in the day to day and not take a step back and look at the bigger picture of what is going on with the team as a whole.


Quick fix:  When there is someone who seems to have more issues for you to deal with than others, decide if they are really a good fit for your team.  Even an extremely high performer can be toxic to a team.



{#/pub/images/EmilieShoop2014.jpg}Written by Emilie Shoop, Creator and Leader of Shoop Training & Consulting A sought after Coach, Mompreneur, Strategist, Mentor, Speaker, Author, Trainer & Business Consultant, Emilie works with people who are ready for that next level of success, and realize how they work with people is KEY.  Her coaching will help you lead, delegate, sell, collaborate, perform, influence, and relate with people to launch your success to the next level. She provides clients, teams and organizations the skills and tools for leadership and professional excellence.



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