Conflict is inevitable when people work together, and it’s one of the most difficult challenges facing managers. But it’s a challenge that successful leaders learn to address. Managers who develop an understanding of difference without judgment and are willing to see more than one perspective or solution are in a good position to manage conflict with their direct reports. Conflict between managers and direct reports highlights a power relationship and affects the work itself—the tasks for which managers and direct reports share responsibility. Managers who look to see both sides of conflict can resolve it, but it means assessing the differences between themselves and their direct reports and finding out how those differences affect the conflict.
After assessing those differences, managers can devise a plan to use before, during, and after a conflict resolution session. They will be better prepared to understand emotions that can trigger conflict, to clarify performance expectations so their direct reports know what’s expected of them, and to provide ongoing feedback for the support and development of their direct reports.