Conflict is a normal part of everyday life–and that applies to professional work environments. When you were an employee, you may have been able to put your blinders on and focus on your work instead of getting involved in office politics. As a leader though, you know that you have a responsibility to foster healthy relationships between your team members. Office politics can be a tricky landscape for leaders to navigate, but it's important to manage conflicts effectively to maintain a positive work environment. In this blog, we’ll provide tips for managing workplace conflicts.
Understand the Politics of Your Workplace
Every member of your team has a unique personality, holds a different outlook, and has a preferred workstyle, making office politics unavoidable no matter what industry you are working in. If these differences are causing tension and stress, it will take away from your team’s ability to focus on their job and remain productive. By understanding the power dynamics, alliances, and social networks in your workplace, you can better anticipate potential conflicts before they occur and work to avoid them.
Practice Active Listening
Sometimes, conflicts cannot be avoided in advance. In these instances, it’s best to address the situation as soon as possible. Start by having an open and honest conversation with the team members that are involved in the disagreement. Give all parties an equal opportunity to share their point of view and acknowledge that you hear the points they are making to gain a full understanding of the situation and how you can work towards a solution.
As a leader, it's important to remain neutral and objective to avoid taking sides and potentially exacerbating the conflict. Once you have taken the time to listen to each side’s point of view, you can see if you can learn more from an unbiased source to try and clarify the initial source of the conflict.
Focus on the Issue, Not the Person
As you further investigate the source of the conflict and start formulating ideas for a solution, make sure that you avoid coming to any biased judgments based on your own experiences or the opinions of your team members. By focusing on the issue at hand rather than placing blame on individuals, you can help keep emotions from escalating and work towards a resolution.
Find Common Ground
The common goal you will work towards will look different depending on the specific scenario, but a good solution will be a compromise that benefits everyone in some way. The solution should address the root causes of the issue and ensure that a similar conflict will not arise again in the future. By identifying areas of agreement and shared interests, you can work towards finding a mutually beneficial solution to the conflict.
Seek Outside Support
Overall, navigating office politics as a leader requires a delicate balance of understanding the dynamics at play, remaining neutral and objective, and finding common ground toward resolving conflicts. By implementing these tips, leaders can help create a positive and productive work environment for their team.
If you would like to strengthen your problem-resolutions skills, improve your communication, and enhance your confidence as a leader, the Front Line Leadership program incorporates a variety of structured activities and content that is engaging, fast-paced, and immediately applicable to the workplace. Contact us today to learn more.