Part of any leader’s job is resolving conflict among employees. But there’s a right and a wrong way to restore the peace.
Beware of falling into these four behavioral traps when trying to play referee:
1. Autocrat. It’s fine to exercise your authority when necessary, but don’t overdo it. Injecting yourself into every conflict and issuing verdicts can make staffers feel like they’re under your thumb.
If you’re too autocratic, employees will refrain from taking responsibility for their actions and avoid making key decisions. Instead, they may wait for you to step in and take charge.
2. Appeaser. If you’re tempted to appease people rather than create frameworks for them to get along, you perpetuate a destructive status quo. Combatants will continue to fight because they know they can get away with it.
You may need to discipline someone or at least prod difficult employees to improve their behavior.
3. Avoider. Ignoring brewing trouble rarely serves as an effective long-term strategy. In many cases, conflict grows and eventually boils over.
What’s worse, a leader with a reputation for looking away from conflict often has a negative impact on the workforce. Employees might take advantage of thevacuum to sow discord and grow accustomed to avoidance from the top.
4. Micromanager. The opposite of an Avoider is someone who rushes to intervene in every minor dispute. As a result, employees might feel like babies under the watchful eye of an excessively anxious parent.
— Adapted from Do More Good. Better., Steve Scheier, High Impact Press.