Some managers have no problem with conflict (some even seem to like it!). They dive into any situation without worrying about hurt feelings or repercussions. For other managers, it's more challenging. Addressing an employee performance issue or pointing out mistakes makes them edgy. The idea of a friendly little discussion leading to a confrontation stops them in their tracks. Maybe they like their employees personally, and don't like making people mad. Maybe they worry about being slapped with a law suit for saying the wrong thing, or stepping outside of the boundaries of HR guidelines.
Unfortunately, conflict will arise in any leadership position; people and their lives are interesting and unpredictable, as are the companies that employ them. Growth, stressors, staff changes, procedure changes and bad placements can all cause contention in the office.
If conflict is really not your forte, you'll want to make sure you aren't subconsciously doing things to avoid it. Let's say you notice some obvious performance issues from your most recent hire… we'll call him Hal. (Sorry to all you Hals out there).
Confrontations are no fun, but if you find yourself sidestepping problems to avoid being a “bad guy” you might want to consider this: Are you sure you aren't being the "bad guy" after all?
Chances are pretty good your best employees have noticed the problems too, and need to step up their game to pick up Hal’s slack. By not addressing matters quickly, you’re putting undue stress on those whose work you value.
By adding new or more stringent rules, you run the risk of punishing good performers, and having more confrontations down the road: More rules = more rules to break.
As a manager, your time is more costly; you aren't doing your company any favors by not doing your manager-stuff.
|1.||Know your company's discipline policies - If it comes to a write-up, retraining, or termination, you'll want to know you are handling matters properly.|
|2.||If possible, head it off at the pass - If you notice problems with a new employee, the sooner you step in the better. Correct, retrain, and give examples. This isn't even contentious... just part of the learning process for any new hire.|
|3.||Be proactive - Like anything unpleasant, the dread is usually worse than the conflict itself. Address the problem immediately and specifically.|
|4.||Keep it unemotional - You don't dislike the person, just their actions (ok, you might dislike the person, but that's irrelevant). Facts are easier. "You were supposed to do X, you did Y. Please stop."|
|5.||Document, document, document - Oh and did I say document? Put everything in writing. The HR/Legal department will thank you for it if matters escalate.|