How would you deal with employee disputes

Conflicts in the team - how do you react correctly as a manager?

"Colleague Fritz has ... but don't tell him you know about me!" - Every manager experiences secrecy, rumors, slander, complaints or open arguments between two or more team members at some point. All of them are based on a conflict: colleague Fritz did something that annoyed colleague Susi. How the head of department reacts to this is crucial to whether the conflict can escalate or be resolved.

How to react incorrectly to conflicts in a team

The former happens in the following scenario. After the complaint described at the beginning, the department head brings Fritz to her office. As a responsible manager, she naturally takes the complaint seriously and believes her employee. She certainly doesn't want to stay out of the conflict. She confronts Fritz: Somebody told me that ... “and repeats what she thinks about Colleague Susi's descriptions noticed. Fritz naturally wants to know who made the complaint, but doesn't find out. The conflict should not also be carried over to the personal level, says the department head and tries to factual to stay: “I can't tell you that. It doesn't matter either. "

Secrecy leads to paranoid tendencies

Christa Schirl

Of course, the head of department has the best of intentions and tries to respond professionally. Unfortunately, the procedure outlined makes everything worse, explains work psychologist Christa Schirl: “This is what happens in the company paranoid tendencies. You don't know who is complaining about you, and you can't take a stand. ”In this way, the conflict cannot be resolved, but continues to smolder - and in the worst case grows until no one trusts the other anymore. A good cooperation can no longer work like this.

How executives properly deal with conflicts in a team

  1. Stop rumors before they spread

“You never get rid of rumors once they are spoken. A complaint is in truth a rumor, ”explains the industrial psychologist. "So if an employee comes and says she would like to complain because Mr. Fritz has ..., then the manager should immediately say 'stop!' And call Mr. Fritz over."

The right reaction in the example mentioned looks like this: colleague Susi complains to the department head: “colleague Fritz has ...” - In the second the department head interrupts: “Okay, stop! Let's get Fritz over and discuss it with three people. ”If there are conflicts in the team, a manager shouldn't listen to anything without them all parties present are.

  1. "I" instead of "you": do not allow any accusations

In the conversation itself it is important that everyone is involved active listening and practice the principles of nonviolent communication: I-messages instead of reproaches.

Instead of: "You have it again forget the deadline! "to:"It annoys methat the appointment was not kept. "or"I'm pissed offbecause now I have stress that I wanted to avoid. "

As a good manager, the head of department in our example has to admonish Susi and Fritz to stick to their point of view. For allegations and accusations there is no place in the conflict discussion.

“Nobody does anything with malicious intent. But sometimes we're blind or stupid. "

"Christine Bauer-Jelinek, psychotherapist and power expert, assumes the three Bs in conflicts: blind, stupid or evil," explains Christa Schirl. “We often assume bad intentions, but very few have them. Most of the misunderstandings arise because of the first two. If you already take into account that nobody does anything with bad intentions, but people sometimes blind are or feel, for example, due to stress behave stupidly, Does that help."

  1. Getting to the bottom of the conflict

So accusations are taboo. Those affected should very well express anger, frustration and disappointment in the conflict discussion. “As a manager, I have to lead the conversation in such a way that I find out what bothered the employee, what they want,” explains the industrial psychologist. In this context, it is important to make the conflicting parties aware of the corporate spirit: Why does our company exist? What do we want to achieve here? What tasks have to be done for this? Because you often get lost in the little things and forget the bigger picture behind them - and that you actually do pulling in the same direction should.

  1. Agree on a conversation goal

"The boss is not a buffer, he is a bridge builder"

Often times, executives try as Buffer stop to act and intercept the anger on both sides. But that is neither good for the manager nor does it solve the conflict - on the contrary: “It's not about getting bruises or allowing injuries. Rather, the manager must be the Bridge builders Determining the goal of the conversation helps. So the question could be, for example, “Is it in your interest that you can work well together?” If there is an agreement, the goal of the conversation has been defined.

  1. In the event of a conflict, ask solution-oriented questions

Then you start looking for why that is just not possible. Is there a Information congestion or did the behavior of one annoy the other? The department head from our example could say: “We want the cooperation to work again, so tell us what is bothering you.” After Susi has described her point of view, the department head should ask: “I have you correctly understood? ”Then you summarize what you have heard and have the accused repeat what he has understood. So can misunderstandings be corrected immediately. Christa Schirl recommends: “The manager's questions should definitely be solution-oriented and not address the problem or the allegations. Problem-oriented questions do not lead to anything. "

Avoid problem-oriented questions:

  • Why can't you do it?
  • Why does it never work?
  • Why didn't that work again?

Asking solution-oriented questions:

  • How can you do it
  • What do you need to make it work?
  • Where can we start to make it work in the future?

Why do conflicts arise at all?

Basically, the psychologist and psychotherapist speaks for them Importance of disputes out. “Conflicts are part of human life. Friction creates heat, and heat is basically a good thing. It makes no sense to try to avoid conflicts per se. Unfortunately, in teams I often experience that differences of opinion are avoided even though they are there. However, it does not have to and cannot run without conflict, it is more about how conflicts are resolved. ”This is dangerous, because“ if you sweep everything under the carpet, you only make the carpet dirty. ”

The different types of conflict

There are innumerable reasons for friction or conflicts in the team: “One could write a book about the different types of conflict alone,” says the industrial psychologist. Some examples are around Role conflicts (Friend and colleague), Distribution conflicts (the other department has new computers, we don't), Relationship conflicts caused by misunderstandings, prejudices, envy or distrust as well as classic Conflicts of needs (I need free, my boss says no) all the way to inner conflict about the boss who doesn't want to be a boss anymore or the employee who would rather go to his family than stay in the office longer in the evening. “Conflicts are often structural and arise, for example, from unclear responsibilities, work processes or hierarchies,” says Schirl. The problem is: In private, you can decide who to surround yourself with. At work, on the other hand, you often have to work with people who don't suit you or who represent different interests.

Interesting facts about conflicts in the team

Every team member can log into the Dealing with disagreements to practice. Basically, according to the expert, these are increasingly moving into the focus of managers. “Anyone who wants to be a good manager needs good strategies for recognizing and resolving conflicts. It is also about recognizing which one Conflict type you are. ”The more you know about the problem in general, the better you can react. That's why a lot here useful information about friction in the team:

  1. Knowing: Recognizing conflicts is not easy, because it depends on many factors how quickly conflicts are recognized. Basically, however, there are some general signs of conflict. This includes, for example, withholding information, Group formation, atmospheric Disruptions as well as the decrease in the productivity. "When a lot of energy goes into conflict, the work usually suffers greatly," explains the psychologist.
  2. The conflict resolution: In order to resolve a conflict in a team, one must first clarify for what it actually works. Because often conflicts are mere proxy conflicts, the real core is not addressed. You should ask yourself questions such as “What is important to the person?”, “What is the team about?” Or “What changes for the team when this or that change occurs - or not?” Conflict management is also an option always about one Win-win situation there are no losers or winners in conflict resolution. It is important to see and satisfy common interests. Because when it comes to resolving conflicts, I don't look for the guilty party, but for solutions. In this context, it is also about the fact that people have to learn listening to each other. In addition - you don't always have to be of the same opinion, that too has to be learned.
  3. The types of conflict: People react differently in a conflict situation. Basically there are some that fight, those who flee, yourself to adjust, a problem displace and there are conflict solvers who negotiate and look for solutions. Ideally, the boss or team leader is one Conflict solver, but one thing is very important: to resolve a conflict you need the standby of all involved.
  4. The culture of conflict: As mentioned at the beginning, conflicts cannot and should not be avoided. In order to prevent this from escalating, however, a culture of conflict should be introduced, which is used in the worst-case scenario. This means that the team is on regulate agree on how to deal with conflicts. These rules should definitely be worked out jointly and made transparent. It is also important to have a Team culture to encourage people to talk to each other, personal contact and a open ear are the be-all and end-all. Common leisure activities, for example, offer space for conversations in a relaxed atmosphere. In addition to the possibility for personal conversations can be an anonymous Suggestion box helping those who find it difficult to discuss their problems face-to-face.

Photo credits: shutterstock / fizkes