Career Partners International’s Dan Portes on Being a Successful Manager

While conflict is unavoidable, avoiding resolutions is not acceptable if you are going to be a successful manager. In a circumstance where two people, who report to you, are having an acrimonious disagreement you will need a thoughtful approach with some options to resolve the problem.

As their manager, it is always unacceptable to have subordinates who are not civil toward one another. Screaming at each other is not going to resolve issues and will only diminish respect from others in the company. The first step is to get the facts and determine if the conflict affects the company or if it is a personal issue. If you determine it is a workplace issue and you decide to take ownership of the resolutions, you will need to diffuse the situation as quickly as possible. The best way to start is either by separating the adversaries, or by setting ground rules for a civil discussion which includes listening. What you don’t want is two televisions facing each other while the volume just gets louder. Thoughtful listening and respect for each other is critical in resolving conflict.

Your first reaction should not be to jump in and take on this responsibility, but instead, remind them you hired “adults” who should be more interested in resolving conflict than creating it. However, if it is clear they need your help, you will need to establish the rules of engagement. When each person is describing the situation, it is important to make sure the individual is speaking for him or herself, not for the group for which they are working. Encourage them to focus on their own actions and the actions of others, rather than making personal attacks. Make sure they don’t allege intent of the other person until they first check it out. Finally, encourage the adversaries to focus on personal and company goals and objectives,…

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