Steps to Management Success – Step 59: Be Ready to Play Peacemaker

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 1st, 2010


Be Ready to Play Peacemaker

Mediating a conflict is challenging, but as a manager or supervisor, the role of mediator comes with your territory. Your willingness to appropriately intervene sets the stage for your own success. You craft a work environment that enables the success of the people who work there. Like so many other skills, conflict mediation is an example of practice makes perfect.

WHAT IT MEANS: Organization leaders are responsible for creating a work environment that enables people to thrive. If turf wars, disagreements, and differences of opinion escalate into interpersonal conflict, you must intervene immediately. Not intervening is not an option if you value your organization and your positive culture. In conflict-ridden situations, your mediation skill and interventions are critical. Above all, do not avoid the conflict, hoping it will go away—that’s wishful thinking at its worst.

An unresolved conflict or interpersonal disagreement festers just under the surface in your work environment. It rises to the surface whenever enabled, and always at the worst possible moment.

ACTION PLAN: Meet with the antagonists together. Let each briefly summarize his or her point of view, without comment or interruption by the other party. This should be a short discussion so that all parties are clear about the disagreement and conflicting views. Intervene if either employee attacks the other employee. This is not acceptable.

Ask each participant to describe specific actions he or she would like to see the other party take that would resolve the differences. For example, Tom may feel that he needs to have full responsibility for managing the Oswald account because the current division of labor is causing him too much difficulty in tracking and expediting that client’s projects.

Sometimes, you as the manager may have to establish a new procedure or process to resolve the conflict. The key question to ask: what about the work situation is causing these staff members to fail?

EVEN BETTER: If the situation needs further exploration, here’s a conflict resolution technique recommended by Stephen Covey: ask each participant to additionally identify what the other employee can do more of, less of, stop, and start. Above all, fight clean!

It is okay to have reasonable disagreements over issues and plans; it is never okay to have personality conflicts that affect the workplace.

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)

Roger Due

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