If it wasn’t for people, leadership would be easy. Unsuccessful leaders choose the ostrich or bull approach to dealing with tensions between employees. But, don’t miss the key.
Determine their commitment to the relationship.
Those who aren’t committed find fault;
those who are find a way.
After listening to a description of the problem, look each party in the eye and ask the most important question, “On a scale of one to ten, how committed are you to make this relationship work?”
The second question is, “Please explain why you chose that number.”
Optional: Please explain why your number isn’t higher.
Resolving interpersonal tensions between others:
- Create environments where respectful relationships matter. Warm and fuzzy isn’t necessary. Respect is. Talk about relationships before you need to.
- Know your place. You can’t fix it. Only they can.
- Embrace the one purpose of talking. The only reason to open your mouth is to make something better or to explore how to make it better.
- Enable people to bring up issues, problems, and challenges with a “make it better” approach. Always move toward resolution.
- Define the win. What do respectful relationships look like in this situations? Clarify the win in behavioral terms. It’s astonishing how much energy is expended on pursuing undefined goals.
- Keep the ball rolling. Intensity of tension determines frequency of meeting. You’ll be tempted to slow the process down. Don’t. Allow time for emotions to settle, but no more.
- Meet outside the office. If the situation isn’t volatile, meet at a coffee shop where privacy is available. Or, walk and talk.
- Forgiveness is an option. Can you draw a line in the sand and start fresh with a new approach? Don’t just start again with the same skill-set and attitude.