For Every Conflict, There’s A Process

How should you as an owner or store manager react when asked to play Solomon? It happens. Points of contention develop and often escalate until they reach the person in charge. When that happens, remember that there is a process for every situation. I’ve listed some ideas below for clearing up misunderstandings and alleviating tension among the troops. If issues are left to fester, they can disrupt the cohesiveness of your staff and will most likely affect your bottom line.

Escalated issues are usually difficult to resolve by e-mail. This means you either pick up the phone or schedule a quick meeting. It’s generally best to schedule a meeting rapidly to prevent further misunderstandings.

Build a reasonable path forward. Be careful not to overpromise and underdeliver. Develope reasonable next steps or actions that can include short-term wins for all parties involved.

Instead of saying "No," say "Not now." Sometimes it’s tempting to just say no. But a better approach is to say "not now, but it’s something we can look at in the future."

Be the honey, not the vinegar. It’s easier to resolve issues if you remain calm and polite rather than confrontational (no matter how tempting it is). Use as much humor, optimism and enthusiasm as you can muster. Yelling or using intimidation might work in the short term – after all, you ARE the owner or manager. But in the long term it will undermine the trust and loyalty of your employees.

Don’t throw people under the bus, and don’t let your staff do it. Blame is seldom productive and if truth be told, one person is generally not solely responsible for a problem. There may have been a misunderstanding and/or incomplete information or instructions given. Whatever the reason, the important thing is to make corrections and move forward. There is absolutely no benefit in shooting the messenger or pointing fingers.

Remember – there is always a process for every issue without resorting to emotion to counter emotion. Try it.

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