Resolving Issues through Effective Conflict Mediation
Leaders are responsible for creating a working environment that engages people and allows them to contribute and thrive.
If disagreements occur and escalate into interpersonal conflict, leaders must intervene immediately to restore balance into the workplace.
Conflict mediation is a skill any leader can master with enough practice and preparation. In handling conflict, it is important to recognize when to use specific conflict management techniques based on the situation and people involved.
The five conflict management approaches outlined below are available to anyone dealing with conflict. While each approach is effective under specific circumstances, it is important to understand when to use them and how others may perceive you.
The Competing Style
It is assertive and uncooperative, a power-oriented approach where the individual pursues their own interests at another’s expense. Best used when quick decisions are vital, such as in an emergency.
The Accommodating Style
It is unassertive and cooperative, the opposite of competing. Those using this style may neglect their own concerns to satisfy those of others.
Best used when the issue is much more important to the other person than it is to you or when maintaining harmony and balance is critical to you.
The Avoiding Style
It is unassertive and uncooperative. Individuals using this style do not address the conflict.
Best used when the issue is trivial or there are more important issues that need to be addressed. Also, when the potential costs of addressing the conflict outweigh the benefits of its resolution.
The Collaborating Style
It is both assertive and cooperative, the opposite of avoiding. When collaborating, an individual tries to work with the other person to find a solution that satisfies both of them.
Best used when both parties have concerns that are too important to be compromised on.
The Compromising Style
It is intermediate in both assertiveness and cooperativeness. It is a middle ground between competing and accommodating.
Best used when goals are moderately important and when it is important to arrive at a quick solution.
Mediating a conflict can be challenging and time-consuming.
However, as a leader, the role of mediator comes with the territory. Your willingness to intervene as needed and help others achieve consensus sets the stage for your own success, as well as the success of the team you are leading.
An unresolved conflict festers under the surface and affects everyone who comes into contact with the conflicting employees.
People feel as if they are walking on egg shells and this contributes to the creation of a hostile workplace for everyone.
In worst case scenarios, team members start taking sides and your team is divided. This is why it is critical for you as the leader to manage conflict – avoidance is not the answer.