- Herb Cohen
6 Steps to Conflict Resolution
Updated: May 1, 2019
The leader establishes rules for the team's behavior. When there is conflict, many leaders would like to avoid addressing this head on. In doing so, it compromises the team's morale, contributes to employees leaving precipitously, undermines the integrity of the team and ultimately creates a divide among team members. It also leaves employees feeling like they are on their own and creates an environment of instability.
Too often, leaders want to be liked and think that any open discussion of conflict will reflect on them poorly. Leaders must realize that to be trusted and respected, they have to address conflict responsibly and in a timely manner. They can’t expect their employees to feel confident and secure if they are not leading from a position of strength.
To create employee trust, safety and good will, here are six steps to conflict resolution.
Step 1. Perspective: It is necessary to understand that conflict is unavoidable and needs to be embraced as an opportunity for individual and team growth. The leader’s responsibility is to communicate this perspective.
Step 2. Define acceptable behavior: Clearly state what will and won’t be tolerated.
Step 3. Identify the source of the conflict: Accumulate information about the cause of the conflict to determine what happened and why it happened. Was this a misunderstanding? Was there a history of conflict? Acknowledge how each person perceives the conflict. Listen more and talk less.
Step 4. Solicit solutions: The leader’s job is to facilitate a conversation with the parties involved to determine what they might do differently. By doing this, it puts the onus of responsibility on them. They can’t change the other person, only themselves.
Step 5. Identify possible solutions: Determine the best way to move forward. Point out the value of each others' perspectives. To help motivate the parties to stay on track, it is important to link the solution(s) to the mission of the organization.
Step 6. The future: Put into place a system for evaluating progress, as well as how to address setbacks.
Following these steps will lead to greater trust and regard between the leader and the team members.