In the list of tasks that most managers would rather not do but have to, it’s a safe bet that resolving conflicts ranks quite high. After all, the manager’s primary task is to see to it that his team remains productive, and fights between team members are the last thing he would want to manage.
But conflicts are for the most part inevitable. When you have a group of diverse personalities working together, there are bound to be clashes. This is especially true in departments where team members have to work closely together, such as those in marketing, event management, finance, and project management jobs.
When such conflicts arise within your team, you have to accept the fact that the fixing job is yours, not the HR Manager’s and certainly not the admin assistant’s. Your have to try to get the involved parties to reconcile their differences, or, at the very least, see to it that the conflict won’t affect the team’s productivity. It’s a matter of taking the right steps.
1. Get both sides.
Your first order of business is to talk to the concerned employees separately. You want to get to the root of the problem, and part of that process is hearing both versions. Make mental notes of what each has to say. Your purpose here is not to decide which employee is right and which one is wrong, but simply to hear them out. They’ll both appreciate your taking time to listen to them.
2. Step back.
Assess the situation. You need to determine if the conflict is personal or professional. This can be quite tricky, because it’s not unusual for the personal and the professional to overlap in the workplace. Recall the points that each employee made, and base your decision on these. Once you’ve made the determination, you’re left with two options: leave it to them, or mediate.
3. Leave it up to them.
If you find out that the conflict is of a personal nature – meaning that the two simply don’t like each other – it would be best for you to stay out of it. You’re a manager, not a parent-figure. You should, however, talk to them separately and make it clear to them that even though they don’t get along, they have to respect each other, be professional and work together. Also, let them know that you won’t tolerate factionalizing. It’s bad enough when there are two in conflict within the team. If each of them tries to get others to take his side, this would only worsen what’s already a bad situation.
This is the route you take when you find out that the conflict is purely professional. You have to sit down with the two, and try to come up with a resolution. What’s important here is that both see the importance of good teamwork.
Throughout the entire process, ensure that you remain objective, cool, and respectful to both parties. You have to set a good example. Taking sides, losing your temper, and not showing the proper respect will only drag you into the same problem – conflict – which you’re trying to fix in the first place.