How to deal with conflict as a leader
Company conflict can appear in a variety of circumstances and develop in small or large businesses, within departments, on a team, or between individuals. It’s crucial that leadership handles each conflict appropriately when striving to manage, contain and resolve the issue. Successful conflict management will allow your business to continue to adapt and give your employees the opportunity to grow.
As a leader, it is your job to be cognizant of how your team is working and to always be on top of your business. Continue to ask questions, check in, and analyze. Create focus groups, facilitate discussions and regularly review work processes and the productivity of team members. Be introspective and reflect on any conflict that arises and readjust to move your company forward in a positive trajectory.
Time it right
Timing is everything when it comes to managing conflict in the workplace. It might need to be addressed immediately or it might be better to wait until some of the heat fizzles. As a leader, recognize when the timing is appropriate to discuss a conflict but don’t avoid the situation for too long, as it will only worsen.
Write it down
As a leader, your decision-making skills must always be sharp. When a conflict emerges, if you have the time, jot your thoughts down on paper. Writing things down can help put the conflict into perspective and if you take a moment to step away, you might see a new angle or find a valuable solution that you didn’t think of before.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Honesty is the best policy.” It’s true! Be open, honest and direct when dealing with conflict whether it includes you or not. Transparency from all parties involved can provide clarity and foster authenticity, and it starts with you. Speak frankly and share with your team. Being open about issues can help to build trusting relationships centered around respect.
When learning of a conflict in your business, don’t be reactionary. Listen to understand instead of listening to respond. Acknowledge the feelings of all involved and let them know that they’ve been heard. Be compassionate and empathetic, show respect, and give attention to all parties without interruption. It is your role as a leader to mediate but not rush the process. This will help you see all perspectives and it gives you a chance to gather all of the facts so that you know how to best proceed.
Learn from the conflict
A conflict doesn’t have to be completely negative; there’s a teaching and learning moment for your team in every conflict or hurdle that appears. Take full advantage of this opportunity for growth and development and learn what needs to change so that a similar conflict can be avoided in the future.
Make a change
Once you have learned and understood the issue at hand, come out of the trenches with positive statements. Enact change whether that’s a compromise between employees, a structure or culture adjustment, or a reordering of a team or department. Put your solution into action.
The workplace is continually evolving to be more generationally and culturally diverse and will always be filled with different personalities. The impactful moment is not when conflict arises within a company but it’s how the conflict is managed by its leadership team.