Friday, August 24, 2012

Help your manager handle conflict well

Today's Human Resource Executive Online presents a survey that shows that 41% of "employees think the person to whom they report does not deal well with workplace conflicts. In fact, of 20 managerial behaviors that the survey asked respondents to rate how much they trusted their immediate supervisor to master, handling workplace conflicts ranked last in the survey."

While managers should learn to both resolve conflicts and to coach their teams to resolve internal conflicts, employees can go a long way toward helping their managers do so by following these steps: 

  1. Before bringing a conflict to your manager, work to resolve it on your own. Have you looked at the issue from the side of the other party?  Have you fully listened to and understood his/her concerns?  Have you found ways to help the other party hear yours?
  2. When bringing a conflict to your manager, remember to bring the fullest story you can -- not just your own perspective but also what you understand the other party's perspective to be. There's no point in sending your manager off in a huff to confront the other party, then having him or her return to you with the other party's story. This would lead your manager to see you as manipulative. Your manager needs to see you as a partner, not a whiner.
  3. Approach your manager from the perspective of a collaborator, not a needy conflict-avoider: you want to resolve the conflict productively and you would like to ask for his help.  You respect your manager's time and have tried all you can think of to resolve the conflict on your own.
  4. Don't just drop the problem in your manager's lap but instead come prepared to suggest two or three solutions.
As much as possible, leave personal issues out of the message -- it doesn't matter if you think the other party is a jerk. What you need from your boss is help managing the problem, not the person.