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Three Steps to Resolving Conflict On Your Team


{#/pub/images/ThreeStepstoResolvingConflictOnYourTeam.jpg}As a new manager or supervisor, I think the most dreaded day is the first time it’s YOUR job to resolve a conflict on your team.  Now you have people coming to you for the answer and guidance.  You may have had that a little bit before and have some experience giving out advice, if so, great!  However, it is different as the leader of the team. 


How you handle the conflict on your team sets the tone for how things will go moving forward.

Recently, I had a client reach out to me for help with a conflict she was having with a team member.  The conflict was over disappointment in her team member’s performance.  My client thought her team member should have done more than she did to ensure the success of the project they were working on.  Her team member thought that if more should have been done, my client should have asked. 


Part of the problem was that my client didn’t know exactly what else to do, but was counting on the creativity and experience of the team member to pull them through the project.  Looking at the situation from the outside, I could see both points of view.  Now how to move past the conflict?


Three Steps to Resolving Conflict On Your Team


1) Why is there a conflict?

The first thing I had my client do is just step back and understand why she was upset.  What was making her so frustrated?  What could she own in the situation?


2) What do I want?

Then we went on to before she needed to say anything to the other person, what would make her feel as if the situation had been resolved?  What did she need to hear?  What actions needed to be taken? 


A lot of the time we jump into resolving the conflict (or attempting to) without any idea of what we are really upset about and what would really fix it.  Going into the conversation before knowing these usually ends in one of two ways.  Either the situation gets worse and escalates beyond what it needed to, or everyone apologizes and brushes it under the rug until it resurfaces again later.


Ultimately, as the leader you need to focus on the desired result and lead the conflict to that.  In this situation my client had to look at if she wanted the person to go back and try to fix it, change the behavior on the next project, or a combination of both.  Armed with this information in hand, my client initiated the conversation.


3) Resolve conflict in person.

In our high-tech, low-touch world, it’s very easy to want to shoot off an email or a text to resolve a conflict.  Besides, it’s uncomfortable anyway, why throw ourselves into it?  WRONG!  It is so much better handled in person or over the phone if you can’t meet face to face.  Your body language, tone and ability to guide the conversation gets lost in an email or text conversation. 


It is also important to set the tone for resolution, not battle upfront.  Setting up a meeting and saying hastily “we need to talk” does not go over near as well as “hey, do you have a few minutes?”  I know it’s tempting to want to give the other person a chance to come prepared, unfortunately all it usually does is get them afraid and guarded.  Casual and calm go so much further.


My client was able to grab her team member and have a casual chat about the conflict.  Armed with what she really wanted out of the situation, she felt calm and like it was really no big deal.  She was able to let the team member know that when she didn’t help the project get the results that she wanted, that she was disappointed. 


The two of them were able to talk about the project, other timelines and constraints, and what the plan was going ahead.  Even though the project deadlines had passed, there were a few ideas that the team member came up with to make it right within the organization which my client greatly appreciated.   They both left the conversation ready to take on the challenge, instead of it being a point of contention from now on.


As you work with and lead your team, there are going to be times when someone’s performance is not what you had hoped for.  Follow these simple steps to resolve the conflict and it will go much smoother for both sides!



{#/pub/images/20120913174147_DSC_14831small.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.



Do you have a management question for Emilie?  Post it in our First Time Manager/Supervisor Community and she will be happy to help: Ask an Expert


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