How do managers resolve employee conflicts

Conflict management: when employees argue ...

Should I intervene in the conflict? Managers often ask themselves this when they realize that there is a quarrel between two employees. And often they are unsure: how should I proceed? So here are some Tips for possible conflict moderation and resolution.

Example: Mr. Mayer vs. Mrs. Schmid - or: overtime vs. time clock

Conflicts are as much a part of life as salt is in soup. But what is a conflict and how can it arise between employees? An example:

Two employees work in one department. Mr. Mayer often works overtime until late in the evening, Ms. Schmid always goes home at 4 p.m. This is not a conflict as long as both colleagues find it okay. Now suppose that Mr. Mayer also wants to go home earlier. But he can only do this if Mrs. Schmid supports him more strongly. When asked about this, she says: “Unfortunately, it doesn't work. I have to be home by 4:30 p.m. because of my daughter. ”Even now there is still no conflict, provided Mr. Mayer accepts this reason and puts his interests aside.

Only when Mr. Mayer thinks “I should always be considerate. This egoist doesn't care what I want - I no longer go along with it, ”the conflict of interests turns into a conflict. Because now Mr. Mayer begins to put pressure on Ms. Schmid - without the desired success. That is why he feels that he and his interests are not taken seriously. He is hurt. The mood sinks to zero. And the work results? They worsen because they depend on the cooperation of the two.

There are three elements that characterize a conflict

  1. Failure to respect mutual interests
  2. mutual dependence of those involved
  3. Relationship level injuries

4 questions that are important for a conflict analysis

This is where the starting point for executives lies Early detection of conflicts. For example, by analyzing:

  1. Who is dependent on whom and how?
  2. Are there any signs of a lack of appreciation?
  3. Who is not paying attention to another person's needs?
  4. Which employees might provoke arguments?

EXTRA: The total diva? 4 tips for leading difficult employees

Conflict management: Do not intervene in every conflict

But should managers intervene in every conflict? No! Because their central task is to ensure that their employees perform as required. So they should especially intervene in conflicts that reduce performance. But how?

Many (hobby) psychologists claim: If those affected talk about their feelings, everything will be better. This may apply to couple relationships, but not to most workplace conflicts.

Would Mr. Mayer say to Ms. Schmid, “You are an egoist. You only think of yourself. ", Then the tablecloth would be cut between them. And a Resolving the conflict For example, in the form that Ms. Schmid leaves at 4 p.m., but continues to work at home, would no longer be possible.

At times, leaders can refute conflicts by solve the dependency between the parties involved. For example, by delimiting their areas of work more clearly from one another. But that is often not possible. Then the silver bullet is in Dissolve the blockagesthat prevent the "adversaries" from achieving their goals. It has proven to be useful to jointly look for a way in the context of conflict moderation in which both sides can realize their interests as far as possible.

Extra: Conflict management: Bernhard Fanger in an expert interview

But be careful! A manager cannot moderate every conflict. If she is emotionally involved, then a neutral person should take over the moderation. The same applies if she expects a certain solution - for example to achieve certain overarching goals. Then it is not necessary to moderate the conflict, but to use classic management tools such as instructions or performance agreements.

Conflict management: are those involved aware of the conflict?

Let's say you are considering conflict moderation for conflict resolution. Then you should do that beforehand Awareness of the problem among those involved clarify. Because sometimes employees react in astonishment when they are asked about conflicts: "Why do you think that?" You negate the conflict and let well-intentioned efforts fail. So you should first clarify:

Are those involved aware of the conflict?

And: Is your suffering so great that you are willing to invest time and energy in a solution? Only then get the Consent to conflict moderation a.

Conflict resolution: The procedure BEFORE a conflict moderation

  1. For this purpose, let us describe the course of the conflict to you - but renounce any evaluation. Rather, ask about the effects and whether the situation is satisfactory for those involved. If the conflicting parties answer “of course not”, they are probably ready to take a new path. Then you can suggest a conflict moderation.
  2. If those involved say yes, it is important to find a moderator. Allow those involved in the conflict to choose the moderator themselves. Only offer yourself as a moderator if the employees request it. And explain to them why you are ready to moderate the conflict - for example because you want both of them to work more effectively again in a relaxed atmosphere.
  3. You should first describe the process of moderation - if the participants choose you as moderator. In addition, ask both parties to the conflict to consider beforehand which behavior they would like the other to adopt in order to be able to work better.

Conflict resolution: The possible course of conflict moderation

Below is an example of the possible Conflict moderation process between two parties in eight steps:

  1. Clarify the goal
  2. Establish rules
  3. Collecting wishes and needs
  4. Clarify understanding
  5. Looking for solutions together
  6. Evaluate & negotiate solutions
  7. Make arrangements & take minutes
  8. Conclude & arrange a follow-up appointment

- Click on the headline and jump straight to the paragraph -

1. Clarify the goal

The Parties usually come to conflict moderation full of emotions and at times they are embarrassed about the situation. So start by saying a few words about conflict. For example, there is conflict everywhere. Not just in operation.

Conflicts always arise anew.

For example, because the requirements change, new solutions have to be found. Therefore, conflicts are often important Trigger for innovations.

Explain to the conflicting parties again what conflict moderation is about: a Resolving the Conflict. However, not in such a way that, as in therapy, all emotions and experiences in the past are dealt with.

Not even in the form that, as is often the case in companies, the conflict is ignored or covered by formal regulations. No, the working relationship is to be renegotiated and are regulated in such a way that both employees live well with it and do their job better. The maxim is: No one involved has to agree to a solution that makes them a loser. The aim is to resolve the conflict to the satisfaction of both.

Extra: conflicts in the team? How to improve collaboration [+ video]

2. Establish rules

Define with the conflict partners Rules for moderation. For example:

  • Both make demands on the behavior of the other.
  • These are negotiated according to the “give and take” principle.
  • The agreements are fixed in writing.

Also agree with the conflicting parties what confidentiality may be maintained and what may be discussed with third parties. Also clarify your tasks as a moderator. For example:

  • I behave neutrally and pay attention to the rules.
  • I ensure that the planned steps of the conflict discussion are followed.
  • I intervene when someone accuses the other of having “bad” intentions.
  • I prevent the undiscussable, such as corporate goals, from being negotiated.
  • I make sure that no agreements are made to the detriment of third parties.

3. Collect wishes and needs

Once the formalities have been clarified, you can ask those involved, for example, to answer the following questions on a form:

  • “It would help me to work more effectively if you would do the following more often / differently:…. because…"
  • "It would help me to work more effectively if you would do the following less often / no longer: ... because ..."
  • "Maintain the following activities that help me to work effectively: ..."

4. Clarify understanding

You can either copy the completed forms or hang them up so that everyone can read them. Ask the conflict partners to express each other's demands / wishes out loud in their own words.

"You want me to ..."

Have the other person either confirm or correct the statement. As a moderator, if necessary, ask for examples of the desired behavior ensure understanding.

Fits wonderfully with the topic of #communication - # rhetoric # dialogue # conflict # conflict management pic.twitter.com / DEIgjUNzAL

- Randy Rheindorf (@R_Rheindorf) January 24, 2017

5. Looking for solutions together

Here it is brainstorming the technology of choice, because it enables everyone involved to optimally contribute to the solution. In addition, the search for and collection of the possible elements of a solution should be carried out free of (hasty) assessments.

Extra: Stay factual: 5 tips to resolve conflicts

6. Evaluate & negotiate solutions

After collecting the data, both parties to the conflict can use their demands to determine the Mark suggested solutionsthat they find most suitable. Then ask the conflicting parties to themselves reciprocal offers close. For example:

"If you give me more detailed information, I would ..."

As a moderator, make sure that Negotiating is a real give and take. Experience shows: Often the solutions negotiated in this way go far beyond the previous points of dispute and thus create one Win-win situation.

7. Make arrangements and take minutes

Make a note of all agreements made. That at Negotiating the future working relationship Sometimes the emotions boil up and painful experiences from the past are portrayed is conceivable. You should let that happen so that the pressure dissipates from the boiler.

But you have to show tact and make sure that no pressure builds up. After the outburst of emotions, for example, calmly state that it shows how much emotions are involved and that such injuries certainly exist on both sides. And then suggest:

"Now let's go back to the behaviors that you would like to see in the future."

8. Complete & arrange a follow-up appointment

The agreements reached during conflict moderation often appear insignificant to outsiders. For those involved, however, they are important because emotions are attached to them. Consequently, the implementation of the agreements must also be ensured in the long termso that old wounds are not opened again.

It should also be agreed what happens if agreements are not kept. These don't have to be sanctions. Such an agreement can read:

"Then we will talk to each other about it in the future - instead of swallowing the anger."

In any case, arrange a follow-up appointment togetherto check whether the agreements have been kept and whether new points of conflict have arisen.

This is how it continues after a conflict discussion

Team building: From a bunch of colleagues to a dream team

Agile teamwork: teaming up successes

(About the authors: Vera Petersen and Reiner Voss work as trainers for the training and consulting company Voss + Partner, Hamburg, which offers, among other things, a conflict management seminar in which the topic of conflict moderation is also dealt with.)

Our free ePaper: Agile leadership

Our ePaper with the best tips on all aspects of leadership:

→ over 55,000 subscribers
→ a new issue every quarter
→ Conveniently as a PDF in your mailbox

Simply register and be up-to-date from now on!

Download the free ePaper

Vera Petersen works as a trainer for the training and consulting company Voss + Partner, Hamburg, which, among other things, offers a conflict management seminar in which the topic of conflict moderation is also dealt with.