Five Tips for Conflict Resolution
It’s quite apparent that conflict will happen within any team. The most intrepid manager-coaches know how to distinguish the difference between productive and destructive conflict, and foster the productive while stifling the destructive. Successful implementation of this fundamental skill is conflict resolution.
The Small Business Chronicle defines constructive conflict as conflict that “generates productive, mutually beneficial, shared decisions.” Anyone who has attended one of my coaching workshops or webinars will recognize right away that difficult conversations which culminate in commitments to improve behavior or performance perfectly fit SBC’s definition. Often, destructive conflict stems from management’s shaping of the company environment and processes as one-size-fits-all. It’s vitally important for manager-coaches to remember that each team member needs personalized coaching styles. Also, company culture must reflect flexibility. Poor conflict resolution skills stem from poor empathy, lack of understanding, resistance to change, and feeling vulnerable. It’s management’s responsibility to remove these roadblocks.
“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” -Margaret Heffernan, former CEO of iCast Corporation and MBA Lecturer
Here are 5 Tips to enhance your conflict resolution skills (Forbes):
- Define Acceptable Behavior – yelling, cursing, or shutting down is common but not acceptable
- Be Proactive – identifying potential sources of destructive conflict before they occur can be the best way to prevent a bad situation in the first place
- Walk in Their Shoes – try to understand the other person’s point of view and empathize with them
- Pick Your Battles – don’t look for conflict where none exists and know when to confront people (6pm on a Friday isn’t going to produce good results)
- View Conflict as Beneficial – an opportunity to improve is always a good thing, frame your conflict resolution in this way
It’s clear that conflict is beneficial to organizations when managed properly. And, since conflict is inevitable, the process of turning negative conflict into positive conflict is absolutely crucial for all manager-coaches. One of the best opportunities for positive conflict resolution can be found in difficult conversations about a team member’s work ethic or attitude. By using the above skills, a great manager-coach can pivot the conversation to make it constructive.
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Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Definitely keep it inspiring. –Steve