Updated: Sep 25
Two of your team are in an argument and you’ve been called to sort them out. There are a few ways I’ve seen managers approach this complex issue. They are:
They leave it to themselves to resolve the issues because they think that it is a personal issue and that managers shouldn’t intervene.
Blame one side or the other
Being in charge has the pitfall of becoming judge and jury when asked to get involved in a conflict.
Blame both parties
Getting annoyed that you’ve had to stop your important work to sort out what seems to be a “playground” issue, blaming both parties is a common way to get back to work as quickly as possible.
These three ways of dealing with team conflict have one thing in common. They are short-term. None of these approaches work long term because the core issues have not been resolved and will surface again and again unless you approach the issue strategically.
Go for Understanding
When team members have a disagreement that has escalated beyond the normal to a conflict situation you should go for understanding.
Get the parties in a room and agree a common goal with them.
For example “ We are here in the best interests of our customers and discuss how we can serve them better”
Explain the process detailed in the following steps.
Ask one party to go first and explain their point of view in the conflict.
No personal attacks.
The other party can ask questions once the 1st party has stated their case, to clarify understanding.
The second party then states their case. The 1st party then can ask questions to clarify understanding. Your goal as manager is to repair their relationship, so be prepared to referee these exchanges so that it doesn’t dissolve into another argument. Going for understanding is very powerful when in conflict. The hardest part is to remember to go for understanding when conflict arises.
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