Most leaders are not entirely comfortable managing conflict, however conflict in the workplace is a very real factor that can cause individual employees to reduce engagement or decrease their self-motivation. Effective leaders understand the importance that conflict management has on the organization, and they take appropriate steps to acquire the knowledge and develop the skills to develop resolution in an effective, constructive manner. In order to determine whether or not you possess the necessary knowledge and skill, Berger (2017) proposed asking yourself these five questions:
1) On a scale of 1-5, how comfortable are you with having tough conversations?
2) What is your go-to method (email, phone, face-to-face) for handling conflict with employees?
3) Is it hard for you to manage your emotions effectively in challenging or fear-inducing situations?
4) How do you create an open dialogue with your team under difficult circumstances?
5) How do you exhibit poise and self-control in the presence of confrontations?
6) How comfortable are you with giving what might be perceived as negative feedback?
The answers to these questions should reflect confidence in your ability to manage conflict. Conflict can be a daily occurrence and the way in which conflict is managed can either drive or disrupt work. Some conflict can actually promote healthy tensions among individuals; however it is the responsibility of the leader to assess whether the conflict is healthful or if it may be harmful. When it has been determined that the conflict is detrimental and needs to be controlled, here are four ways to start the conflict management process:
1) Identify the Opportunity
View conflict positively by understanding that confrontation can be an opportunity for growth and development, both of the leader and subordinate.
2) Build a culture that encourages giving and receiving feedback
A culture that supports providing feedback and truths fosters understanding within the organization and lets employees know that their opinions are valued.
3) Use face-to-face interaction
If possible, in-person interaction will grant real-time awareness and your undivided attention.
4) Engage productively using storytelling
After hearing the other persons side of the matter, make your case by creating ease in the way in which they are able to process and respond to your argument through storytelling (if possible). Humor is also a tactic for reducing tension in these situations.
Berger, L. (2017). Five Conflict Management Strategies. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/06/07/five-conflict-management-strategies/#590b35c7521d
Healthy Conflict in the Workplace: https://irc.queensu.ca/articles/5-benefits-workplace-conflict
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