By Mark Creedon
10 Simple Steps to Resolve Conflict
I sat down with Leanne Jopson, a property management expert who has a superstar team of over 30 people, to learn how conflict resolution comes into play for her on a daily basis.
Leanne shared some insightful tips to help you navigate conflict within your team. Because as we already know, things run best when everyone’s humming along to the same tune.
The first question I asked her? How often conflict comes up at work? Her answer was 10-15 times per day.
From tiny conflicts like stolen parking spots to big-picture problems like stolen ideas, when you’re in a leadership position, conflict resolution is a huge part of the job.
Leanne is professionally trained in conflict resolution, so you know this is about to get really good, but what’s even perhaps more impressive is that she grew up in a household with 17 kids. Imagine how often those conflict management skills were put into action, probably before she even realized how much she needed them!
How often do you deal with some form of conflict at work? Daily? Weekly? If you take some time to think about it, you’ll probably be surprised at how often it actually arises.
Here’s Leanne’s first tip: Learn to identify conflict before you try to tackle it!
There are essentially two kinds of workplace conflict:
- When people’s ideas, decisions, or actions are in opposition; and
- When two people just don’t get along.
The first kind of conflict is usually healthy and can be used to stimulate growth or productivity. The second kind, unfortunately, is just a nuisance. But the good news is that even this nuisance can be managed to benefit you and your team.
Leanne raises an excellent point in quoting Max Lucado: “Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.” At the end of the day, once we know how to manage conflict peacefully and effectively, it can actually be a huge win for everyone involved. Think of the term constructive conflict similarly to how you think of constructive feedback. We need conflict to learn and grow.
On the other side of the coin, we have to be wary of the fact that conflict handled poorly can destroy you. So, keep reading!
I like to keep things simple and straightforward, so here’s Leanne’s 10-step process for conflict resolution:
- Separate the parties: Keep the atmosphere calm and check in with everyone involved. This helps diffuse the situation and address the problem head-on.
- Listen: Give everyone a fair chance to be heard on an equal playing field. Ask questions, don’t give input just yet.
- Clarify: Restate what you’ve heard to get clarity and let them hear the problem from another perspective. This helps contextualize their side of the story.
- Seek concession and compromise: Find some common ground where one party can see the validity in the other party’s perspective.
- Repeat: Do step 4 with everyone involved.
- Propose: Share the outcomes from step 4 with everyone separately. Often this sounds something like “would this possible solution work for you?”
- Regroup: Get everyone together and lay all the cards on the table.
- Resolve: Sometimes, you have to make a decision here, popular or unpopular. This can be tough, but you won’t always find a win-win situation. That’s okay, but as a leader, it’s your job to make the best decision for the greater good.
- Review: Recap the solution and assign a timeline to check back in.
- Reward: Acknowledge the fact that the process worked! Celebrate your team’s ability to overcome challenges and compromise. This will also help you lay the groundwork for effective conflict resolution moving forward.
With these 10 simple steps in your toolkit, you can keep your team operating smoothly with great morale and plenty of opportunities to grow!
Mark Creedon is the founder of Business Accelerator mastermind by Metropole and business coach to some of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs – helping them build a true business, not a job.
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