How do you train your associates to handle conflict?
As promised in our first blog on Conflict Management, you will find more information on this topic below, looking more at leading your associates toward constructive conflict. When given a reasonable amount of training and encouragement, most associates possess enough skill and confidence to engage in dialogue and conflict without mean-spirited personal attacks and resolve problems in a positive and professional manner. Trust them to do so.
- Inspire confidence from all members of the team by encouraging them to have positive, constructive conflict to achieve solutions and make the organization stronger. Tell them that they can do it! Congratulate them when you see them having constructive conflict and encourage more!
- When it’s your turn, explain your view by making a business case. Don’t force people into a defensive posture by making personal remarks. Own your mistakes first, and then explain that your attitude is to help find the TEAM a winning solution. Once you have done this, state your case without any attempt to do anything but inform. Don’t advocate for any particular outcome; just lay out the facts and identify your opinions as opinions. Recommend without manipulation.
- It’s not about being right; it’s about doing the right thing. Inspire the team to work toward a win/win solution to every problem, or better yet, a win/win/win solution.
- Celebrate when the team has gotten comfortable being uncomfortable and they begin to demonstrate that they can resolve disputes that could have become destructive, however, arrived at a win/win solution due to the efforts of the team. A celebratory dinner is an excellent way to recognize the team.
- Familiarize yourself with the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, which is a good model for handling conflict in a positive manner. By choosing your approach to handling conflict along the axes of assertiveness and cooperativeness, you can select from five potential approaches to resolving conflict, including compromise, competition, collaboration, avoidance, and accommodation. Each of these approaches has positive and potentially negative implications, and some conflicts are best resolved by one choice over the others. The bottom line is that you can use a situational approach, and choose the most effective style of conflict resolution to manage the conflict to a successful resolution. Knowing which methodology to employ requires some practice and potentially some coaching for best results.
- Remember that conflicts are often only a conflict in appearance, due to perceptions. Be careful about how you choose to react, and how you choose to view a potential conflict. Your perceptions of the potential conflict may be skewed, or inaccurate. Do not assume the worst about the motivations of others who may be involved in the conflict, and do not send messages that are based on assumptions about a potential conflict. Many people have learned the hard way that accusations about another person’s motivations in a perceived conflict are very hard to retract once launched. Don’t say things that you’ll have to apologize for later. The best policy is to be patient and understanding and to assume the very best about the intentions of another person in any potential conflict until you learn otherwise.
You must recognize that resolving conflicts early is much easier than resolving them after they have been avoided for lengthy periods of time. Conflicts are not always destructive and can be constructive. Destructive conflicts are rather like an infection, if treated early, they are relatively easy to manage and respond well to corrective measures. Destructive conflicts that are allowed to fester gain strength and tenacity and become very difficult to remedy. Be proactive and engage in constructive conflict resolution efforts as early as possible.
Don’t forget, “Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional!” –Max Lucado