The claws are out. People are fuming at each other. No one under your command is getting along. Morale is at an all time low, and your former favorite workers are now giving you the stink-eye every time they drop off another report. What’s going on? Why is there so much conflict? And how come no one’s happy when they leave those closed-door sessions?
There’s probably too much conflict and no resolution going on in the office. Face it, every company and organization is going to have internal conflict at one point or another. Conflict is defined as two opposing views meeting each other. The problem in your office isn’t conflict itself. It’s how the conflict is handled when it arises.
So what’s a boss to do? With these 4 keys and 5 techniques, you could take your company out of the hole of slow production and into the light of high production. All it takes a willingness to break out the box and desires to apply these techniques to everyday situations.
*Scope the situation for what it really is. As a boss you can’t have your eyes and ears everywhere and anywhere all at once, but you can tell when people aren’t getting along. Do some asking around and find out why two people who used to talk really aren’t talking, or why one co-worker is in such a huffy mood. Anytime a conflict is brewing underneath the surface (and YOU are the surface) it can come up in many forms.
*You can’t fix everything. Even if you direct someone to take an action, it doesn’t mean the conflict is over. In some ways, it’s like raising a child. Sometimes your child has to stumble a few steps before they realize how to walk.
*Conflict is not always bad. When handled properly, conflict is probably one of the greatest things that can happen between two normally productive coworkers that aren’t at the top of their games because of some brewing issues. Letting it all out properly clears the air
*There is no one master technique. Compromise isn’t always the answer. Neither is forcing someone to take an action. There isn’t one thing that always works and gets the most beneficial results. Putting a band-aid on a cut doesn’t heal it; sometimes it takes salt on the wound. Other times it takes a cooling salve. Make the right choice by knowing your people and what truly gets them going.
Accommodation. This happens when someone reluctantly takes an order just to avoid a blow up. Your workers were given either Monday or Tuesday off. You want one of your workers to have Tuesday off, even though he prefers Monday. It’s an extra day off, so he doesn’t argue with it, accommodates, and takes Tuesday.
Avoidance. Just not facing the conflict all together. Someone could avoid turning in reports to you by making excuses and constant re-scheduling for whatever reasons he or she has. Or maybe you don’t want to attend the monthly stockholder’s meeting because it’s a two-hour affair that always becomes four hours.
Compromise. Most people are familiar with this one. You give a little, you get a little. You want 26 shares for 100 bucks. He’ll give 10 shares for 75. You meet in the middle with 13 shares for 50. Did you get what you wanted? Did he? You got something in a compromise.
Force. Basically just making someone do something, usually with a threat. “Do this or you’ll be demoted.” Concern for excuses, reasons, feelings-valid or not- are not in question here. All you want are results.
Consensus. Hashing it out until everyone reaches a win-win situation. It isn’t the same as compromise because the end result could have nothing to do with the original goal, but the end agreement is something everyone is happy with.
Like we said in the four keys, not one technique is an absolute winner.
Accommodation can be handy when the choice you want isn’t going to break your heart if you lose out. Maybe you really wanted his expertise on Tuesday, but Monday wouldn’t have been such a loss. You could have accommodated and been ok in the end. He could have accommodated just to make you happy but had to break up some important plans. He could show up on Tuesday more bummed than ever.
Avoidance can actually be a good conflict resolution technique, believe it or not. Not turning in those reports to you because they’ve not served a real purpose vs. accomplishing more useful tasks can be the reason why your coworker doesn’t want to do them. However, blowing off a stockholder’s meeting can really send a bad message to those who fund your company, even though it isn’t on your list of favorite things to do.
In compromise, everyone gets a little. But at the same time, everyone gives up a little. It’s good if you can live without your sacrifice, like you may not have the corner office anymore but you still have a decent view out the window. But if you had to give up something more important like a useful, experienced team member in exchange for hiring two new workers, your compromise might not have been worth the time.
If you have two co-workers blasting their music way too loud and it’s the tenth time this year that they have been warned, forcing a no-music policy on them may upset two workers but make 300 happy. However, making a forceful decisions all the time backed by threats can put a serious damper on company morale.
In consensus, having everyone happy in the end never hurts. But if you are pressed for time and have deadlines to meet, a consensus could take much longer than necessary. Just think about ordering lunch in and asking people which restaurant you should order take-out from. If no one eats until everyone is happy, it could be dinner time! However, choosing the location of the company’s weekend retreat by consensus could be a super morale booster.
Conflict resolution techniques come in many forms, but when used properly you can create a balanced and productive office where morale improves because they’ve spent less time fighting and more time working. Learn these techniques while you’re in charge and you could become viewed as the fair-minded leader who takes his team to the finish line with minimal distraction every time.