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Thursday Insight: Conflict Resolution

Thursday Insight: Conflict Resolution

One of the hardest things managers deal with are team members who cannot work harmoniously together. It’s made doubly difficult when the individuals in conflict are, in all other respects, great members of the team.

Often, the way the individuals cope is by moaning about their colleague to friends and loved ones. Whilst this may be a great way to release the stress of dealing with someone we find frustrating, it rarely solves the problem.

Why? Well, one reason is that the friend/family member that we ‘vent’ to knows that we expect them to reassure us that it’s not our fault and the other person is terrible…which they might be! 

But what if they’re not? What if they’re just as frustrated and sad about the situation as we are?
Here’s a great technique for dealing with situations where members of your team don’t seem to be able to get on. It works in two stages: 

Stage 1 – Ask each person to write down the behaviours that they find so frustrating in the other. Encourage them to detail the impact these behaviours have on them as an individual. (Note: As with all feedback, it’s important that they focus on their own experience. They shouldn’t refer to any alleged impact on other people.)

Once both parties have done this it’s time for the second part:

Stage 2 – Ask both parties to repeat the task, but this time as if they were the other person. (You might want to facilitate this part of the process in particular, to ensure that both parties are approaching the task fairly.)

Once they’ve completed both tasks, both people will have gained greater clarity about their own frustrations, and those of the other person.
This means that whether you bring both parties together in a room to talk through the issues, or if you stick to your own 1:1 discussions, both individuals should be more ready to identify the changes that they need to make to improve their working relationship.

We’ve got some great material in Managers’ Library that you can use to support these conversations. Here are a few of them for you to look at:

I’d also recommend you taking a look at Handling Unhappy Customers. The LACE technique it teaches is equally useful when we want to understand negative feedback from others.

September 12 2019 Frances Ferguson
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Frances Ferguson

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