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Overseeing conflict? Avoid 4 pitfalls

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in Workplace Communication,Workplace Conflict

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 the leadership vacuum 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.

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