Humans lean into conflict naturally. It is how this conflict is resolved which defines the future of the situation. Even in a professional setting, conflict can arise as people have differing opinions and personalities. When taking on the role of a leader, it is important that you have solid conflict management skills in order to successfully manage a group of people.
As a leader, you must learn appropriate and effective ways to manage conflict. One method of conflict resolution from the American Management Association cites five steps to conflict resolution for individuals and groups as follows:
- Identify the source of the conflict: as it sounds, it is important to determine the cause of conflict.
- Look beyond the incident: Sometimes what people vocalize as the issue may not be the root of the problem, and it is crucial to determine if there are any underlying issues.
- Request solutions: During mediation, listen actively. Hear what each party is saying and encourage them to come up with solutions to the problems that work for both of them.
- Identify solutions both disputants can support: If you simply suggest solutions that aren’t customized to each party’s needs, odds are it won’t work in the long run. On top of creating solutions both parties can agree on, it is important to recognize any fundamental errors in the system. For example, you might need to restructure departmental issues.
- Agreement: Both parties need to agree on the solution, and verbally commit to implementing it.
There are also an assortment of strategies you can take to resolve, and prevent, conflict in the workplace. With the inevitability of conflict, it is important to see conflict as an opportunity for improvement, rather than something to be scared of. Forbes suggests some strategies that can help you if your conflict management skills are something to be desired. First, you must encourage your employees to be communicative and build an environment that is conducive to feedback. Second, be proactive about addressing conflict, without assuming too much. You want to address real conflict before it becomes an issue, but don’t want to draw attention to something that may not be a real issue. Third, communicate and address conflict in person, rather than through chats or emails online. Finally, listen to all sides of the story, and address feelings and emotions before diving into solutions.
Conflict resolution is a crucial part of life, and these skills in the workplace can even translate into your daily life. To be a successful leader, facilitating conflict must be in your reservoir of skills.