By Lolly Daskal
Many leaders make the mistake of thinking they have to resolve every conflict—especially those that affect their team. But the best leaders know that is not the case, they learn to empower their employees by guiding them, giving them the resources they need and incentivizing them to work things out on their own.
Here are six simple techniques to foster healthy conflict resolution within your office:
Lead by example. It’s one thing to tell your team what they need to do, and another to hold yourself accountable for your own actions. However you’re personally dealing with conflict, those who report to you will likely follow your lead. To set a good example, pay attention to each person’s perspective, practice good listening skills, accept constructive feedback, and try to create an inclusive environment where differences are respected and honored.
Coach your team. Every team has conflict—that’s just the norm—but it’s the leader who can coach their team through times of conflict who makes the biggest difference. The best leaders give their employees tools and techniques for mediation and conflict resolution.
Establish ground rules. Every team needs to know the standards under which they will operate and collaborate. When you equip people with clear expectations and processes, they always know how to respond appropriately.
Give regular feedback. An annual performance review isn’t nearly enough to prevent and resolve conflict. It is far more effective to have regular feedback sessions with your immediate team. These meetings can help cultivate an atmosphere of open and honest communication, and they present a good opportunity to deal with any misunderstandings or divisive issues before they get out of hand.
Incentivize your employees. The best way to instill a new practice and keep it going is to provide incentives. They can take many forms—coaching, training, feedback, evaluations, or reward systems. Every leader needs to look at their team and organization and decide what works best for their culture.
Celebrate successes. When team members successfully resolve internal conflicts, it should be celebrated and acknowledged. An appreciation of successful resolution will help build morale and encourage people to continue following core values and meeting high standards.
Building a strong effective team that takes conflict in stride starts with leading by example and builds with good coaching, guidance and support.
Lead from within: Conflict is inevitable. It is leading by example and coaching your team that you can best help them learn to resolve conflicts effectively and efficiently.