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While some people seem to attract conflict, or purposely cause it, most people naturally try to avoid conflict in the workplace. Avoiding it though, doesn’t make it go away. Opposing views can bring about productive and positive change for your operation. Yes, it’s true — resolving conflict effectively is a good thing that will lead to:

  • Better decisions
  • Creative changes
  • Improved relationships
  • Unity of team purpose
  • Increased collaboration & high performance teams

For conflict to have a positive outcome, it needs to be constructive versus destructive. As a store manager, it is your job to effectively manage conflict within your team by addressing conflicts early to avoid conflict escalation. Escalation is common, and is characterized by accusations, gossiping, threats, taking sides and, ultimately, a weakening of a healthy team’s bond.

To stop escalation from happening, managers must recognize the positions and interests of the people involved. A position is a decision people make about what they want. It usually sounds like a solution or an answer to a problem. Positions don’t form all by themselves. They are usually based on interests — the “why” behind people wanting what they want.

Resolving Conflict by Finding Common Ground

For example, you may need to announce a new procedure for rotating inventory. This is a position. Your decision is probably based on your interests — “why” you wants the new procedure — such as to minimize waste and increase profits. When you announce the change, you may be surprised that the new procedure meets significant resistance from staff. All they hear is that they’re going to have to learn something new that will take up more of their time. Their position is based on their interests of minimizing their confusion and avoiding change.

Finding a common ground and resolving conflict requires team leaders to uncover interests of the employees that the new procedure will serve. Conflict arises because the conflicting team members have either positions or interests — or both — that simply do not agree. Positions maintain the conflict. Your power to resolve conflict is found in the interests.