Oftentimes cruel and unfair managers are the ones that get talked about, portrayed in the media and in Hollywood and so on. But let’s say you, as the manager, do care what people think about you.
So, on the flip side, instead of being harsh to your employees, you want to be liked. Well, hate to break the news to you, but there is a chance you could be “too nice” as a manager.
Conflict avoidance is when one steers clear of any type of disagreement and avoids the current issue at hand. However, whenever people gather together, there are bound to be different points of view that often lead to disagreements.
Sure, you can avoid conflict in the workplace – when you’re not a manager. No matter what type of company you work for, your role as manager will not be free of conflict.
If you routinely avoid conflict, you are presenting yourself as one who gets overwhelmed in crisis situations and fails to identify the core issues of a problem. A lack of reaction may actually provoke additional problems as you are silently communicating that conflicts should be avoided or denied.
In avoiding conflict, you may actually be the direct or indirect cause of an increased amount of tension by not addressing it, not proactively dealing with obstacles, or not effectively managing the team’s relationship with upper management.
As a manager, you are expected to proactively address these situations wherever possible.
If you’re unsure if this applies to you, you should reflect on your behavior in the past few months. Have there been times where you needed to step up but you have simply held back and stayed quiet?
If you’re still not sure, seek feedback from those around you. Take the initiative and ask them if they believe you avoid conflict among your direct reports.
In addition, here are some other tips to keep in mind:
- Take training in negotiation or conflict management skills.
- Practice active listening skills to sort through sources of conflict. Listen carefully to each side of a disagreement, and repeat back in your own words the essence of the argument. When people feel heard, they are more likely to be able to listen to another point of view.
- Discuss problem situations with all parties before determining the best course of action. Seek feedback from someone else on the proposed solution before instituting it. Look for win-win solutions.
- Immediately identify and prioritize longstanding or unresolved conflicts within your team. Develop a strategy to address them. People may welcome the opportunity to talk openly about issues that have been simmering and will have excellent ideas for solving them.
- When attempting to resolve a dispute, first focus on common goals. Try to find an area of agreement before negotiating disagreement. Notice if there are things in the work environment that you can change. Not all problems require financial or upper-management solutions; many can be resolved through addressing them creatively.
Tackling conflict doesn’t make you mean or angry; it just shows you are proactive in solving issues among your team. You can still be a nice manager who handles conflict effectively, and then you can prove that nice guys and gals don’t finish last.