Navigating workplace conflicts skillfully is a critical aspect of leadership. When conflicts arise, leaders face the challenge of addressing them promptly while ensuring a professional and rational approach. It’s essential for leaders not only to avoid inaction, which can exacerbate the issue, but also to take a moment to step back and assess the situation calmly. Striking the right balance between immediate action and thoughtful preparation is key. This article aims to guide leaders in managing conflicts effectively by focusing on preparation, grounded decision-making, and timely intervention.

Don’t Avoid It or Step Around It

When the pressure is on and stress levels are high, it can be tempting to avoid conflict or step around it. It’s easy to convince yourself that it will work itself out, but inaction is an action. By not doing anything to address the conflict you are sending a message to your team that you are okay with it. Not only is this horrible for morale, but whatever conflict you are avoiding will only get worse over time. By establishing a routine of addressing issues promptly, you will create a sense of authority in the office that will significantly decrease the chance of more conflict in the future.

Taking a Step Back

Addressing conflict quickly, before it escalates into a bigger problem is certainly important, but leaders need to be prepared before they can address these situations. Sometimes it’s important to give your people some time cool down and think before addressing the conflict. Other times you may need to step back because you notice you aren’t feeling grounded enough to deal with the situation in the moment. Regardless of the reason, you need to be prepared to face the conflict before jumping in to deal with it. If you want to be successful, make sure you ask yourself the following questions before approaching your team.

  • Am I feeling grounded?
  • How can I help diffuse the conflict in a constructive way?
  • Have I tried putting the other persons shoes on?
  • How can I tell a story to help diffuse the conflict?

Another great way to ensure you are prepared to address conflict with your teams is to work through your plan with the help of an executive coach. In fact, one of the most common focuses for executive coaching programs is conflict resolution. Talking through the conflict with the help of a third party can be extremely beneficial for getting an outside perspective on the situation and can help you learn new strategies to use with your people.

At the end of the day, conflicts in the workplace are something you are going to have to deal with regularly as a leader. To handle conflict effectively you need you need to find a balance between addressing the issue quickly and taking a step back to prepare yourself. Don’t forget to ask yourself the 4 key questions we mentioned in the article. We hope you found this article helpful.