Effectively Managing Conflict During Remote Working

Just because we are carrying out a lot less face-to-face interactions does not mean  there is less conflict in the organisation. Left unchecked or to grow, individuals can become isolated and conflicts harder to resolve.

Managing conflict is a key leadership skill. It allows us to get things done but it can also create supportive teams, stronger relationships and better business solutions.

With more people working from home or in different locations, these skills are even more valuable and necessary to drive results.

A lack of confidence or not knowing how to approach a situation can lead to hesitation, inertia or worsening situations. Following a clear process with effective training in a safe environment equips leaders to deal with conflict more effectively.

At NewLeaf, we promote a simple 3-step process which can help resolve conflicts and improve the effectiveness of your people

Conflict Resolution Process

Step 1: Declaring a conflict

Step 2: Seek win/win/win solutions

Step 3: Expectation exchanges and resolution

Step 1: Declaring a conflict

  1. Recognise there is a conflict that needs to be managed
  2. Write down the issue and find the right words to express this conflict and its effect
  3. Set up a meeting with the individual at a convenient time and location and express your concerns and be prepared to listen too!

 Top Tip: Assumption v Fact:

Make sure you are dealing with facts and not assumptions or hearsay

Step 2: Seek win/win/win solutions

  • Win for the business. This is often the question that breaks the conflict between individuals. If you both work for the same business, why wouldn’t you both want the right thing for the business!!
  • Win for the individual
  • Win for you

 Top tips: Active listening

  • Listen really hard to what the person is saying to you
  • Regularly check your understanding by repeating what the person has said back to him/her. Slow the process down, make notes of what you heard, then proceed
  • Try to put yourself into the shoes of the individual, and imagine the argument from his/her perspective
  • Seek to understand the root cause of the problem(s). Ask “why do you think that is?” ….
  • Only when you feel you have properly understood the persons position should you be able to respond

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” (Stephen Covey)

 Step 3: Expectations exchanges and resolution

  • Discuss what is not being delivered/achieved
  • First person shares expectations of what is wanted and what help he/she can give
  • Second person shares expectations on what he/she believes can be delivered and what help he/she needs in order to deliver the required expectations
  • Discussion continues until consensus is reached, with both parties agreeing on expectations.
  • Write up the agreements and agree specific review dates

Top Tip: Be Assertive

The aim during the conversation is to be Assertive – the “sweet spot” between Passive and Aggressive

With practise and support, even the conflict shy can take positive steps to improve relationships and performance.   

In conclusion it is worth saying that as well as managing conflict, Leaders can prevent further conflict.

Conflict Prevention using Leadership skills and performance management

  • Evaluate leadership skills using a profiling tool. Identify gaps and have active development plans to fix
  • Leaders use everyday situations to give feedback on good performance
  • Leaders use everyday situations to enforce expectations of correct required behaviour
  • Leaders use formal annual performance appraisal system to formally record behaviour issues and set expectations for correction via personal development plans

Donal Murphy, Senior Consultant, NewLeaf International Ltd

Tel: 01905 425209

Email: headoffice@newleafinter.co.uk