Tuesday, April 9, 2019

When your Teammates Are In a Dispute

It’s no picnic to be in the middle of a fight!

We all hate being caught in the middle of a disagreement between two coworkers. Sometimes, conflict and debates can be good for people and for organizations. But other times… not so much.

Most work place conflict seems to be awkward, uncomfortable, and a drain on productivity. So what should you do? Should you stay out of it, or should you intervene?

Harvard Business Review
gives us the rundown on what we can do to overcome this challenge, and I’ve summarized it here:

  1. Allow them to get it out. Let them express their feelings and their frustrations.
  2. Don’t take sides! Empathize with both sides and hear them out, but do your best to stay neutral—you don’t have a dog in this fight.
  3. Add perspective; give them clarity on how their disagreement is affecting team morale.
  4. Be careful when giving advice. Ask first before giving unsolicited advice. Remember, they might not want to hear your opinion. Just because your suggestion has worked in a previous situation doesn’t mean it will work this time.
  5. Remind them that healthy conflict is great, and as long as they can keep it issue-centered rather than person-centered, they should keep talking. If they can’t keep it issue-centered, bring in the boss as a last resort.

Remember, if they are your subordinates, it is your duty to intervene as a manager, leader, and friend. But if they are your peers--as a friend, you should point out that their spat is getting in the way of working together.

And here’s my special gift for you—4 questions you can ask yourself during conflict.

Looking forward to hearing if this helps,

Dr. Rob

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