Preventing Conflict

Shawnee Love   •  
June 13, 2014

When you have people working for you, you must expect conflict. While it can feel like a painful waste of time, and it may be about petty stuff, getting through it is imperative to getting things done and building a team.  One of the most effective ways I know of dealing with conflict is to prevent it in the first place.

Basically, taking action early on before it turns into all out war and a slew of bad feelings.

Here are 6 practices to include in your management toolkit that will help you prevent conflict:

  1. Don’t ignore anything.  Often we will get too busy and see or hear something that tweaks us, but we put it aside in favour of the mountain of other things we have to deal with.  Instead, make a point of following up and asking questions to understand and get to the root of the issue.
  2. Be approachable, fair, respectful and trustworthy.  Ensure your staff know they can come to you to discuss anything at any time and you will work with them in a fair, honest, and balanced manner till it is concluded.
  3. Communicate clearly.  Not only will your clear communications prevent friction due to misunderstandings in expectations and tasks, but it models clear communications for staff to learn from.
  4. Be solutions focused.  Yes, people do dumb things, make mistakes, and say and do stuff that is unintentionally hurtful.  However, to prevent conflict and enable people to move forward successfully, we mustn’t play the blame game and we can’t allow people to wallow in the swamp of “poor me”.  Reminding people about what we are working together to achieve and asking how to move forward can help people get over the hump.
  5. Teach your staff to seek to understand before being understood.  Stephen Covey’s advice will never go out of style.
  6. Remember the Serenity Prayer because:
    1. Some things can’t be changed.  Move on.
    2. Some things can be changed with courage and persistence.  Be both.
    3. Wisdom is necessary to know the difference.  So is patience and both can be learned by practice.

Do you have any conflict prevention advice for me?