coworker shaking hands

When handled responsibly and productively, conflict can serve as a powerful force in your team’s success. Collaboration thrives on constructive conflict, which can boost motivation, mutual understanding, and team performance. But of course, this requires mastering conflict management.

CMOE offers three constructive steps to manage conflict as a leader and inspire more meaningful collaboration and communication on your team. Dive into this today—don’t let your team and organization become the victims of high turnover and greater levels of absenteeism due to unresolved issues.

1. Promptly Address the Conflict

Leadership is rooted in taking action and addressing conflict before it’s too late. If you hesitate in responding, your team members may make decisions based on the conflict instead of the solution. As a result, conflicts can impact the work and relationships, teams may experience reduced productivity, and you likely to lose forward momentum as a leader.

Therefore, address conflict promptly by:

Defining the conflict. Ask effective questions: How did it begin? Who is involved? Are there underlying issues that need to be addressed? If needed, engage in 1:1 discussions with those involved to gain more context and better define the conflict.

Taking time to understand all sides of the issue. Speak to each individual separately to get to know their side of the story. These conversations should help you understand the full context of the conflict and brainstorm ways to find common ground and ways to resolve the conflict.

Gathering the necessary individuals in a group discussion. Be sure you’re only inviting those directly involved in or affected by the conflict. This provides an opportunity that opens up dialogue about important issues. Leave out third-party individuals who have limited involvement or understanding.

coworker shaking hands with woman in foreground

2. Turn Conflict into Productive Dialogue

It’s easy to blame the other party when conflicts arise. But placing blame doesn’t solve the issue at hand. Instead, leaders must understand how to turn conflict into productive dialogue.

Achieving productive dialogue involves:

Respect differences: Whether you are mediating a conflict involving two team members or trying to resolve an issue involving yourself, it’s essential to keep an open mind and listen to the other party. Hear what they have to say. The reality is that every person is different, with unique backgrounds and experiences. Try to understand and respect these differences. How can you leverage these distinctions to find a viable solution?

Assess emotions and timing: Keep in mind, you and others involved in the conflict may not yet feel up to finding a solution due to high emotions. As the leader, be sure to regulate your own emotions as you deal with situations involving conflict. Remember to keep calm, respect the feelings of others, and offer to revisit the conversation at another time.

Engage in two-sided dialogue: A productive dialogue is two-sided; both parties have balanced time and opportunity to express their points of view and contribute possible solutions. Not only does this illustrate respect for everyone involved, but it also shows that your team members genuinely want to find a solution.

Practice empathy: Empathy is about having the emotional ability to step into someone’s shoes and understand why they are feeling the way they are. You don’t necessarily need to agree with them; empathy is simply about taking the time to recognize and acknowledge the other person’s point of view. Empathy plays a large role in finding common ground. It can help tear down resentment and encourage team members to stay rooted in authenticity. Not to mention, it can help those involved attack the issue rather than each other.

3. Create Solutions and Identify Action Steps

Your discussion should always engage all parties in seeking a solution that satisfies shared interests and achieves desired results. By identifying common goals, you can more effectively resolve the conflict. Together, you, your team members, and/or others involved in the conflict should:

  • Let solutions emerge from the shared discussion.
  • Map out the specific actions each person will take to implement the solution and reach the goal.
  • Agree on a timeframe/deadline to implement that solution.
  • Ask for and verbalize your commitment to taking action.
  • Check in and keep each other accountable for the results.

Remember, it may take several constructive conversations to jointly come to the right solution and solidify your approach. Make sure that you carve out time to continue the collaborative effort and generate the best solution.

Participate in a Conflict and Collaboration Course with CMOE

Participating in a conflict and collaboration course is a powerful investment for leaders and team members. CMOE’s Conflict and Collaboration workshop or Managing Differences course will help you and your team members navigate conflict with confidence.

Learn how to better manage conflict, achieve collaborative solutions, and enhance your relationships with others by accessing CMOE’s courses today!

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About the Author
CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.

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