To successfully resolve conflict among employees, a manager must first have the confidence and skill in being a good manager. Owning up to the possibility that you may not have every skill or quality it takes to be an effective manager is tough. If you don’t have all the information, be willing to ask for help.
Admitting that you made a mistake or need assistance makes you human. It also allows your team to show its strength and feel closer by supporting you when you need it. Demonstrate your willingness to be vulnerable, and your staff will be more likely to admit their own shortfalls instead of going to great lengths to cover them up.
Here are a few obstacles that can stand in your way of being an effective manager — and a skillful mediator:
Letting egos get in the way: Taking credit for work you had little or no part in, dismissing the efforts of employees, or clamoring to get your name mentioned before those on your team is not only egotistical, but it also turns the very people who are there to support you against you. Be a cheerleader for your team, and they’ll return the favor. Pushing a boulder uphill with all hands on deck is easier than going it alone.
Lacking training or skills: Every once in a while, you’ll come up against a situation that tests your knowledge and capabilities. Maybe it’s that one employee who doesn’t respond to your usual approaches or techniques. Or maybe your boss is pushing for more than you can deliver and you’re simply out of your element.
Being uncomfortable with change: Reorganizations, budget cuts, new clients, or fresh strategies that are outside your comfort zone can be exhilarating for some people . . . and gut wrenching for others.
If you’re a manager who doesn’t do well with change and you’re stuck in the middle of one, you may resort to
Hiding: Dropping off the face of the Earth when uncertainty is in the air gives you a few minutes of calm, but it doesn’t change the fact that you have a responsibility to your team to keep them informed and to keep the chaos in check. If you’re not available, employees have to deal with the stress and confusion on their own. Leaving your employees to fend for themselves breeds discontent.
Fighting: If you’re uncomfortable or unhappy with changes that are occurring, you may decide to fight the new world order with everything you’ve got.
Yes, fighting for what you believe in is important, but don’t forget to take a break once in a while and reassess the situation. Remind yourself of your ultimate goal, and keep your employees’ interests in mind at all times.
Surrendering: Often, accepting the inevitable makes sense, and finding ways to communicate the benefits of a change (even one that on the surface doesn’t appear to have any good points!) helps your employees work through disappointing decisions. But if your team is willing to come up with viable alternatives to a decision, and you just want to give up, their morale can be seriously affected and you could be setting the stage for irreparable harm.
A period of change is not the time to inadvertently bring your team together against you or sit on the sidelines as people get their résumés in order. Instead, put your energy to good use and help the group formulate a cohesive response that takes all sides into account. If the ideas are shot down and the group receives a clear “no,” at least they can move on with you rather than against you.