Monday, 12 August 2013

Managing Conflict at Work

Over the years I have observed that many managers struggle with dealing with conflict at work, and I include myself in that. I have had to deal with personality clashes between team members, resolve instances of harassment and dealt with conflicts with another manager over competing priorities and resources. Managing conflict is never easy but there are some practical steps that you can take as a manager to minimise the likelihood of it happening in the first place as well as deal with it when it does. I find that the following are particularly useful: • Set clear expectations. It is vital to be clear with your staff that you expect them to behave professionally and work in a cooperative and effective manner with their colleagues. I do not expect my staff to be ‘best friends’ but I do expect them to behave professionally and find it unacceptable when someone complains that they cannot work with a colleague because they ‘don’t like them’ or ‘cannot get on with them’. • Monitor team relationships. Being clear about your expectations is one thing, but you also need to monitor the interactions and behaviour of team members too. It is important to keep an eye on what is happening in the workplace, and during meetings etc. • Deal with issues promptly. I have found it invaluable to intervene quickly in cases of conflict and confront the problem head on. My own experience has been that people generally don’t resolve the conflict on their own, and it more often that not escalates into something far more serious. • Learn to act as a mediator. One of the most effective things I have learned is how to act as a mediator to resolve a conflict between team members. Mediation is not about taking sides, it’s about facilitating discussion and agreement. In a mediation situation, it is not you that makes the decision; it is the two parties that agree to the decision. • Use official procedures if necessary. It may be necessary to invoke the use of disciplinary or grievance procedures. Being prepared to use official procedures demonstrates how seriously complaints and issues are taken. • Watch your own behaviour! As a manager it is important that you maintain a professional presence by not engaging in office gossip, backbiting or inappropriate behaviour, and keeping any issues confidential. I remember once working for a guy who was very unprofessional in the way he dealt with issues and it had a big impact on the behaviour and morale of our team. Many managers struggle with managing conflict at work as managing conflict is never easy. However, I have outlined above some practical steps that you can take as a manager to minimise the likelihood of conflict happening in the first place as well as deal with it when it does. Conflict is inevitable and managers need to have the skills and be able to manage conflict. Our conflict management training courses enable managers to successfully resolve challenging conflict at work. To find out more click here: Or contact us on 0845 409 2346 / click here:

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