Every organization faces conflict among team members, breakdowns in communication and behaviors that create more dysfunction than function. How your leaders handle these challenges becomes the standard which all employees follow. If the team leader is selfish and has a “me first” attitude, then employees will follow suit. If the leader is compassionate and good at listening, then, likewise, the others on his/her team echo that behavior.
To foster an open and safe environment in your organization encourage your leaders to exhibit these 5 positive behaviors when dealing with conflict.
Maintain a Calm Demeanor
Avoid retreating from conflict or caving in to avoid facing tension in a situation. Employees need their team leaders to remain calm when facing a crisis and to tackle it directly, learning the facts of the situation, understanding what has already occurred, what is possible in terms of resolution. Panic is contagious. So is calmness.
Focus on Logic & Objectivity
Building on that point, discuss with your leaders the importance of focusing on the facts of each difficult situation and maintaining objectivity throughout. It is easy for any leader to become overwhelmed with problems, but helping them approach issues objectively and logically improves their ability to clearly determine solutions.
Speak up About Problems
It may be tempting to ignore tension and problems or want to sweep them under the rug, or assume that someone else will handle them. Leadership is about quickly identifying and addressing issues that face the department so the situation doesn’t escalate. When confronting conflict, encourage your team to resist the blame game, or becoming aggressive and saying something he/she will regret. Creating a safe environment in which to identify what is not working is a leader’s responsibility.
Leaders can set a good example by showing empathy to others on the team, even the people with whom they disagree. Train your leaders to focus first on understanding someone’s perspective before trying to get their own point across. And, every leader can set a positive tone by prohibiting gossip and reminding others of the golden rule: “do unto others as you would have them do to you.”
Listen to Others’ Perspectives
Don’t let the “quiet mice” in your company get away with not providing their opinions. Every person has value and it’s important to listen to everyone’s input and perspective. You never know where the solution to a problem will come from and the source may surprise you. When your leaders excel at listening, they help build confidence among others and validate the importance of everyone’s contributions.
Leaders are under constant stress to keep their team and department functioning at a high level while producing the results your organization demands even in the midst of dramatic change. Conflict is difficult in any organization, but every company would benefit by encouraging these positive behaviors among their leaders, setting a great example for the other employees to follow and help begin eliminating dysfunction, improving communication and reducing tension.