Tackling conflict

151We discussed Tackling Conflict In The Workplace in previous lessons.

A leader or manager will have to deal with difficult colleagues, managers and staff members at different points in their career. If conflict is not resolved and is allowed to fester, matters will deteriorate, performances will be affected.

Dealing with a difficult colleague

Try to ignore them if at all possible. If not then try to work around them. If that isn’t possible, you may need to tackle the issue yourself, maybe with some assistance from like-minded colleagues. If all else fails you must take the issue to management and let them deal with it in the interest of making the atmosphere better for the team. They will want to ensure performance is optimised, and peace reigns.

Dealing with a difficult manager

Consider this question – Why are they being difficult with you? Why are you two not getting on? Maybe it is you that is the problem?

Is there an issue with your performance or their expectations of you? You need to make sure you are above reproach before you challenge them about their behaviour.

Are they difficult with everyone? Perhaps it is just their manner, or maybe they have problems at home- marital problems, an ill relative, dependent parents. Perhaps some understanding from you would be helpful, instead of antagonism.

Perhaps they are under pressure to achieve targets, or are overworked, and they need more from you to reduce their workload

Think about all these issues and confirm to yourself that their behaviour is unreasonable. If so, then have a chat with them. Tell them how you feel, in an open, unemotional way, explain the problem, and the resolution you propose. You may find they have not appreciated the problem you were facing or how you felt.

Be aware – After this things may improve, but the danger is that they could seriously deteriorate. You may have to make some adjustments, or find yourself a new job, either because they are unwilling to change, or you have offended them and made the situation untenable.

Dealing with a difficult staff member

As a manager, if there is someone in your team who is causing conflict, you must address the situation. If it is not dealt with, matters may deteriorate, morale and performance could be affected.

As always first consider the situation-

Is the team member aware they are causing conflict? Or are they unaware their behaviour is causing a problem. Will a quiet word with them suffice? Can you get them to change their behaviour?

How has the problem arisen? Communication failure, poor training, poor management?

Think the issue through, collect some facts, gather information and observe the person. Develop an action plan in your mind, and deal with the problem sensitively, giving feedback appropriately. Ideally they will acknowledge their part in the problem and work with you to get back on track. If not, you may need to consider termination of their contract.