Avoiding conflict is a natural behavior. Most people have an urge for fight or flight when faced with an uncomfortable situation. If your instinct is to flee, that’s normal; however, if you find yourself in the middle of conflict the trick is to figure out how to handle it. If you’re a manager trying help your team avoid or better manage employee conflicts, there are a few things that can make it a little easier.

  • Have empathy.

    Sometimes to avoid conflict, managers don’t share constructive criticism with their employees until it is too late. If the employee doesn’t know a problem exists, how can they improve? By sharing your concerns about their work or interaction with co-workers, you are giving them a chance to make changes that can improve their performance as well as their attitude in the office. They will like the fact you respected them enough to bring these issues to their attention.

  • Keep communications open.

    If you wait until something has gone horribly wrong to talk to your staff, it will be clear this is the only time you meet with your employees. Avoid having a reputation for only sharing negative information with your team. Set up weekly or monthly meetings to talk to each employee one on one. These meetings should include everything about their performance, including the good parts. This will give everyone a chance to iron out differences as they happen rather than letting them fester and get worse.

  • Provide data.

    The avoidance of conflict often centers on our fear of what the other person will say in return. Will they argue? Will they be defensive? Will they give excuses? All of these are probably going to happen at one point, so be prepared. The more information you have to back up your position, the better you will be at sharing why you need to provide the criticism. This will also limit the employee’s ability to fire back with various excuses and challenges to your position. And it will give them the tools they need to handle issues with their co-workers.

  • Don’t take it personally.

    Not only do you need to separate your personal fears about sounding mean or unfair, you also need to stress that any action you take is not personal. You are not criticizing them as a person for being in conflict, but rather confronting the fact you believe they can do better. As a manager, it is important for you to help individuals reach their full potential, and if you are unable to let them know when they are falling short, you can’t expect them to know a problem needs to be solved.

Do you want to know more about handling conflict in your office?

Contact the team at FJC Personnel today.