If left unattended, these breakdowns act like a series of paper cuts, niggling away at people, often culminating in an outburst that you will need to try and unwind.
So, how can you manage and finally solve these conflicts? Follow these five steps I have used consistently in solving battle situations across the communities I have worked with.
Step 1: Find a facilitator
The folks in the conflict are too near the fire to be objective, which means you need a facilitator to help unwind the situation and assess how to fix it. This person needs to be a trusted third party that either side of the conflict can have religion in.
Great facilitators are good active listeners, are able to handle a meeting with no dominant, and can form objective, pragmatic viewpoints.
Assuming you are the facilitator, organize calls with each party in the conflict individually. Significantly, these need to be video or phone calls, or in-person meetings.
2. Do not use text messaging, email, forum, Slack, or alternative textual channels. You need to reintroduce the humankind back into the equation, so the two parties can listen to your tone and you can understand theirs.
Expect an entire raft of venting, packed with insecurities and emotion in these types of calls. As you listen, try to pick apart the critical topics which are forming. Is it misaligned expectations? Has there been poor communication? Is there an inaccurate perception between the different sides? Are there cultural elements at play such as a language barrier, different degrees of experience, or something different? Note down these observations individually.
Step 3: Layout pragmatic solutions
If a root cause differs expectations of job participation, could you gather a shared job plan both sides can feed ? Perhaps you can roll in some additional lightweight reporting to ensure everyone is on the same page?
If a root cause is communicating difficulties, could a set of regular calls with a clear schedule be a solution? Maybe it’s possible to agree to a weekly roll-up of effort to review completed work and plan the next set of tasks?
The key point here’s a set of simple, manageable, and goal solutions designed to mitigate the root cause issues you identified.
Now, write these down solutions into a crisp, single-page summary. This solutions ought to be direct, quantifiable, and focused. Cut the verbiage: the focus here is clarity and something that both sides of the battle can clearly understand.
Step 4: Current and get agreement on solutions
Build their confidence that we can rectify these issues with simple and pragmatic solutions.
Now walk through your proposed solutions. Ask for questions and solicit feedback, and make sure they feel comfortable with all the upcoming actions. If you get any pushback, be responsive, but you might also should highlight the importance of compromise in the interests of their wider goals of the company of business they are a part of.
As you facilitate this conversation, be careful in requesting feedback, do not just expect them to douse you with enter : they often won’t. If they try to bring back the discussion to the conflict and pointing fingers, redirect them back to the answers.
After the call is completed, create any requested adjustments (that are often nitpicking the speech ), then email the document to both parties.
Measure 5: Check-in
Now program a normal set of calls to check on their advancement. The cadence of these will depend largely on the particular instance, but this could be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
These forecasts are critical: by putting together and getting agreement on those solutions, both parties are agreeing to be more accountable for next actions. These forecasts are a way for you to test in, and where progress isn’t being created, help them to course-correct.
Practice Makes Perfect
Part of the reason this overall method works nicely is that it focused on pulling practical root causes from a psychological situation and also to concentrate on pragmatic alternatives. This requires some careful facilitation, and do not expect to get it perfect when you start doing this.
At the conclusion of a battle scenario, perform a fast assessment of how it went. Describe what went well, what didn’t, and discuss those findings with other members of your staff who might wish to also be more facilitators. Good luck!