Leaders need to get the hang of dealing with conflicts with their team members.

Discord at work affects everyone. In fact, it creates an environment of uncertainty and negativity.

If the situation is taken care of in a mature and sensitive manner, there can be constructive changes. This can happen via effective conflict management at work.

So how can leaders manage conflict?

1. Understand the Nature of the Conflict

It’s very tempting and easy to spread rumors about conflicts. Do not make assumptions because that will worsen your relationship with your team. Speak to them in a mature manner and make sure you’re well-read when it comes to company policies.

Understand and analyze all perspectives of the conflict to help come to an optimal outcome.

2. Treat Your Employees like Adults

Let your team know that you are alright with them working things out by themselves. When you give them autonomy to do so, there’s a very slight chance for you to get involved.

However, if you’re the one they’re having conflicts with, make sure you have someone guiding you. And be very objective if you yourself are working out the conflict.

Leaders should behave like a mentor. Some essential points include:

  • Understand the emotional aspect of talking with individuals
  • Talk to each person separately, listen to both or all sides of the story
  • Encourage open communication to resolve the conflict

Let your members know that you feel for them and that you understand their issues.

However, don’t forget to focus on problems and behaviors, rather than the people.

3. Sort it Out Early

Some situations need your supervision. If ignored, you can mess up the team’s productivity and engagement.

Be quick and get to the crux of the issue. Deescalation early can do wonders.

4. Listen to All Sides

At first, do not encourage others to give their opinions. That should be left for the worst case scenario.

However, remember to listen to those directly involved. Try evaluating the extent of hostility among the employees. Remember, you’re there to sort out the situation.

5. Figure out the Root Cause

This needs to be done together. Make sure you slow things down after all the emotional turbulence between the employees.

Talk it out with them individually for quick and effective results.

At this step, HR can also get involved for impartial outcomes.

6. Keep in Touch with an Employee Handbook

There are several policies which protect you as a mediator and your employees too – keep an eye on the policies because you’re there to manage the existing conflict – not worsen it.

7. Come Up with a Reasonable Solution

Quick fixes have an issue in that they don’t last forever. Instead of quickly resolving an issue, ensure that you come up with a realistic solution where nobody gets hurt.

Make sure you do not completely throw out the idea of any necessary company changes, either.

Related Article: 10 Ways Leaders Can Minimize Conflict

8. Document the Conflict

It’s essential to note down conflicts to prevent them in the future. Repeating offences will affect the organizational climate.

Documentation also helps protect your company from lawsuits. An HR file is a must and each document made must include aspects like what, who, when, where and how. This helps in understanding the situation in and out.

9. Give Conflict Resolution Lessons

Conflict resolution is a skill which everyone must have for a more peaceful and easy going work environment. You can always sign up employees into conflict management courses.

10. Practice What You Preach

In simple words, be the change you want to see.

Leading by example is the best way to uphold and reinforce company values. Organizational climate and culture are severely affected by conflicts.

Playing a Role

Leaders play a major role in conflict management. If you are ambitious enough and love your organization, make sure you sign up for an online course about conflict management at work or keep practicing this art.

It’s sometimes difficult to be a people person, so take it as a challenge.

How Can Leaders Manage Conflict?

If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Niall Kennedy
Niall Kennedy is the Creative Director at Preftrain. He has over 20 years of experience in Professional Development Industry. He has published 4 business books - “All Aboard the Brain Train,” “Healthy Leadership,” “Errant Workplace Behaviours,” and “Hidden Observations”.