Some leaders seem to enjoy workplace conflict and some run screaming from it but both approaches have the same result: They don’t make the situation better. Savvy leaders understand that conflict is a signal that something important is happening and that they need to pay attention to it. Conflict is also a great opportunity to bring co-workers together and improve how our workplaces function. Try these steps the next time you have an issue with a co-worker:
1. Name the conflict (keep it simple, one sentence or less).
2. Each of you describe how you see the conflict.
3. Brainstorm a few ideas to fix the conflict.
4. Agree and choose one of the ideas from the brainstorm to work on.
5. Each of you decides what you will work on and by when.
6. Get an outside person involved if you are still having difficulty working together.
I’ve found that if two people just sit down and agree to talk (respectfully and without shouting) they can resolve even the most complex situations. It’s wonderful to see two people come to an agreement and figure out a way to resolve a nagging issue; like a weight has been lifted off their back.
Remember that dealing with workplace conflict isn’t a quick fix that happens immediately. It takes people agreeing to sit down with each other and working together to develop new solutions over time.