How do you manage conflict in a team?

managing team conflict

From solo franchisee to team manager, you’ve come a long way since opening your outlet! Today, for better or worse, you’re no stranger to teamwork.

Let’s take a look at just one aspect of the worst: conflicts between employees. Because learning to manage conflict situations is like writing your will: it’s better to do it when everything’s going well.

Conflicts in the workplace have many sources

Before jumping headlong into an argument, take the time to analyze the source of the conflict at work. We can distinguish 3 major ones:

  1. Company problems: obscure job descriptions, unexplained internal changes, etc. ;
  2. Management concerns: a promotion not communicated to the rest of the team, opaque directives, management by terror, etc. ;
  3. Personal cases: burn-out, depression, different working styles, egos, etc.

Of course, to this list can be added factors such as poor recruitment or unsupported induction.

It’s important for you to understand where the problem lies and what your scope of action is. If you can change something, do it. If you can’t change anything, it’s best to talk to your team.

Conflicts within the company have many sources, but they also have many expressions: some conflicts are highly visible, while others lie beneath the surface. When it comes to explosive discord, you’ll have to react quickly, if only to calm down scalded spirits. But beware of silent conflicts. If left unchecked, they take time to swell up in everyone’s face, and gradually fester if no one intervenes. So track down weak signals to create space for communication and defuse tensions.

Conflict management: what attitude to adopt as a manager

In the event of conflict, there’s one golden rule you must follow: stand back without getting personally involved. Your role is to listen, encourage discussion, enforce limits and guide your team towards a solution. Faced with employees who speak emotionally, you show composure and distance. Otherwise, the conflict risks turning into trench warfare or a people’s court.

In your role as mediator, it’s essential that you hear what each party wants to say, without minimizing feelings or nipping the conflict in the bud. Your understanding,
empathy and communication
will be all the more appreciated at a difficult time.

Finally, you’re invited to set a good example, in terms of limits, respect and language. As the most listened-to, you set the example for the way forward. For employees in conflict as well as for others.

Overall, you have several tools at your disposal: empathy, Socratic questions, reformulation, courage and firmness if need be. The challenge is to use them at the right moment, before the conflict gets worse and everyone takes sides.

Emerging from conflict

A benevolent manager is important. But you also need to be able to find a way out of the conflict.

Since the conflict involves employees, you can encourage them to find a solution themselves, whether in terms of organization, communication or collaboration. You’re the only one capable of introducing new tools, new working methods or creating a new chain of communication.

If the conflict exists today, it’s also because no solution was found before. You can prevent conflict and help your team find a creative way out. If no employee comes up with a new solution, you are invited to propose a way out, which will be tested for a while and then analyzed.

Conflict is one of the imponderables of a work team. As long as there is listening, empathy and honesty, these disagreements can be resolved respectfully for all concerned.

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