Conflict is an inevitable part of any working environment. Naturally, people are going to disagree from time to time and personalities will clash. As a manager, your job is to step in as soon as you are aware of the problem and look for ways to diffuse the situation. Once you have gathered all of the necessary information and found a plausible solution, it’s important to follow up with those who were involved so you can make sure the issue is resolved. In doing so, it can be helpful to invite the other person to sit down with you so you can ask the following questions:
- What would you like to see happen and what does that look like to you?
It is important to understand what your colleague wants to see happen versus what you feel is the best solution. It doesn’t mean you have to oblige their request, but at least you are respecting them enough to hear their opinion. This is also a good way for them to reflect on the situation and consider a few options for resolution.
- What is your role in this problem?
It’s possible that the employee was an innocent bystander, but they may have also contributed to the conflict. It is important that they step back and think honestly about their role in the situation. This is a chance for them to decide whether they want to be part of the problem or part of the solution.
- What will it take for you to move forward?
This gives the employee a chance to use specific examples of what they need in order to move on. Whether it’s an apology letter, a newly assigned role in the company, or a better understanding of the other person’s perspective, this question will help both you and the involved parties think about what they need to move forward.
- What ideas do you have that could help solve this problem?
This is a very important question because it shows the employee that the solution is not all about you. Rather, it’s about everyone coming together to find a solution that meets their needs.
- Is there anything that is still troubling you?
You want your employees to know their feelings and opinions matter and that you are a manager that truly cares. This question gives them a chance to speak up and discuss any underlying issues or concerns they have. It also lets you know exactly how they feel so you can address those specific issues.
- Is there anything else you need in order to resolve this issue?
Sometimes there are workplace issues that prevent employees from being able to do their jobs. If this is the case, it is your job as a leader to step in and ask what tools or resources are needed to resolve this issue. If you don’t address these issues, it can fester and lead to a toxic work environment. You need to demonstrate that you are willing to provide the resources needed to resolve this workplace problem and get everyone on the same page.
Asking follow up questions is a critical part of solving workplace problems. You want to make sure that all involved parties have reflected on the issue, considered their involvement, and were part of the solution. This is the best way to prevent these same issues from recurring in the future. These follow-up questions should be asked face-to-face in an in-person meeting and should be done within a few days of the problem. This strategy will help you define the problem so you can create the most effective solution.