Conflict - Intervene or Not?

Feel free to circulate as e-learning to your staff.

Wrong Communication at Work
  • Management Skills

"Great leaders encourage dissent and diversity in the pursuit of a shared vision and understand the difference between healthy, creative dissent and self serving obstructionism. They are able to discern what different people need at different times"

Warren Bennis (Pioneer of leadership studies)

In our blog last month we introduced 10 ways to facilitate conflict. This time we consider the pros and cons of intervening in the first place, when two people are in conflict:

  • How serious is the problem?
    > Might it go away by itself?
    > Is the problem serious?
    > Is it a potential disciplinary offence?
    > Who else is being affected?
  • What other behavioural signals have been observed in the past with the 2 employees i.e. is there a more deep seated reason behind the conflict?
  • How much time will intervening take? Do we have that time?
  • How much of a disruption will intervening cause?
  • How will the flow of the meeting impact on relationships? Can the intervention hurt the climate?
  • What’s the chance the intervention will work or fail?
  • Am I the most appropriate person to chair the intervention?
    > Have I got the skills to do this?
    > Where will I get some skills from to handle the issue?
    > Will I make the situation worse by intervening?
    > Who else could chair the meeting?

Finally a good question to ask is:

  • “What will happen if I do nothing?”

If the answer is that the individuals involved (or the work group) will be less effective if you do nothing, you’re obligated to take action. The longer the conflict carries on, the more ingrained the attitudes can become.

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