Conflict management styles used to engage disgruntled employees are not unlike the relational tools you need in a real engagement.
Obviously romance and intimacy aren’t part of the equation in both instances. However in both cases the survival of an important partnership may be at stake–a partnership which is meant to benefit all parties concerned.
The first step toward building any solid relationship is for people to know each other, and that journey can be fraught with challenges.
In most touchy relationships, emotional and political landmines litter the landscape. Some of us are just easier to get to know and get along with. Some of us are more guarded, even aloof, but that doesn’t preclude our being an asset to and a contributing member of a professional team.
Among the best conflict management styles are those that redirect the energy of employees toward constructive collaboration. An important project that requires the involvement of contentious staffers may actually serve to smooth their ruffled feathers, and garner respect one for the other if their duties are carefully scrutinized and assigned.
Refining not just defining roles is one effective approach. Instead of pigeonholing each person based upon their respective titles, and thereby caving into the pecking order in the office, as a manager you might consider refining the duties assigned based on each person’s skillset and passion.
Aside from the obvious perks–getting noticed by the boss or winning a promotion–what aspects of the project “geek” the team members? Playing to both their strengths and their passions should not be branded or interpreted as weak management.
In order for you to know your employees passions, you have to get to know them as people as well as workers. And cultivating that kind of insight is the sign of a strong leader, not a weak one.
That’s where successful conflict management styles more closely resemble the skills you need for a personal relationship–a partnership. Partnering with your subordinate by honoring his or her professional aspirations means getting to know them and that requires open, trust-filled communication.
Opening the lines of communications is more than your opening the door to your executive suite to your subordinates so that they can come in and listen to you. Don’t just hold audiences with your underlings. Become an audience yourself. Listen. Lean in and listen until you really hear them–who they are; what they really want or need in order to be fulfilled. Open your mind and heart as well as the door to your office.
When you’re mediating between two sparring colleagues, openness becomes that much more crucial. Each one should be able to trust that they’ll be heard by you–not prejudged and sized up before they reach your door. Listen with your people skills along with your managerial skills. An open, unbiased mind and ears that are willing to hear are the hallmarks of the best conflict management styles.