It is never easy dealing with conflict especially in the work place. However it has been proven that conflict between two parties can be dealt with more easily when a third party enters. The purpose of this third party can range between advising the parties just overseeing them or acting as the one who makes a judgement call on how to stop the conflict. In a business managers can act as this third party which can help deal with conflict as well as potentially prevent conflict from going further than it should. When acting as this third party a manager should take into account the following:
1. Choose your battles. Any manager will not have time or energy to manage all conflicts that arise in the workplace. A manager should consider how important the issue is before deciding if they are going to participate in an argument or not. Managers should also not allow their emotions to come into play during a conflict because at the end of the day, the work is for the company not the manager. If the conflict could make you look bad, then you should avoid it because how people perceive you has a direct impact on your success at work.
2. Listen actively. Always hear what all parties have to say before getting involved in the discussion. If you fail to listen, you will miss important facts that could change the outcome of the argument. Perhaps both parties are getting overworked about nothing and are just feeling stressed out and need to talk to you about their own problems. Either way, you should be level headed, take a step back and listen carefully to what they are talking about so you can provide a solution based on the information provided by everyone involved.
3. Have an open mind. Be able not only to listen but put yourself in the position of the other people involved. Everyone has different perspectives and conflicts can arise in the workplace because of peoples different viewpoints. So after you listen to what everyone says, it’s good to put yourself in their shoes and create a solution that is good for not only the employees, but especially good for the company. If it’s not good for the company, and you can prove why, then that should be brought to the two employees attention and a call should be made as how to diffuse the conflict.
4. Keep your composure. Don’t let your emotion get the best of you and ensure that your body language does not bring across a negative message to the employees. If the other parties in the conflict see that you’re siding with the other or are unable to handle the situation, it will look bad. Managers should be able to compose themselves, take a step back and truly analyse the situation at hand. If you fail to keep your composure, you will be seen as someone who shouldn’t be a manager, or a leader.
5. Be respectful of differences. There are so many differences between people and you have to account for them when dealing with conflict and trying to resolve it. Someone could be a different gender, ethnicity, class, be from a different country or were raised with a different world view. These are all points of difference that can’t be changed but factor into how people behave in a work setting and need to be accounted for. You should respect their differences so that you are fair to them and so that you can best understand and relate to their backgrounds.
6. Identify common ground. Think about where both parties are coming from and what they can agree on. This way, you can help them start to mend their relationship and better work together on resolving their conflict. They should start by first agreeing that the problem does in fact exist, then agree on the worst-case scenario and then on a step to fix the issue in order to avoid this scenario. Getting both parties aligned and helping both of them figure out a solution can help save you time and be more effective.
7. Propose a solution. If the two employees can’t figure things out on their own, it’s time for you to step in and help them come up with a solution. Take both perspectives into account and think about how the result will impact the company before making a decision. Your solution should be focused on the company’s best interests and resolve the problem for everyone involved if possible. Don’t pick favourites and eliminate all bias when you come up with a solution and instead take their perspectives and your own and come up with something that you think would work best for the company not only for you.
8. Ask for help. If you can’t come to a resolution by yourself, with the parties involved, then it’s time to seek advice. I would go to your mentors in the company before you go to your boss. The worst thing you can do is go to your manager and be seen as someone who can’t handle conflict – a trait that leaders should all have however depending on the situation it is important that if the conflict is brought to your bosses attention so that they are aware of potential threats to the business. Address your superiors in the company if not your boss and provide all the background information to them so that they can provide you feedback.
9. Be open to compromise. You don’t need to win every battle but you should seek to compromise on some parts of the agreement or solution. Sometimes you just have to give certain things up in order to get what you want in a conflict and you have to be fine with that. If you’re open to compromise, you will also appear to be a fair person, which people respect.
10. Maintain your objectivity. Managers typically play to favourites when making decisions on who to promote and support. You have to not side with one employee because you like them more or you’re bound to make the conflict worse. By maintaining your objectivity, you will end up with a better solution and feel better about it. Again, take a step back and start asking the right questions and analyse the situation as an outsider eliminating any bias.