The CEO’s Role In Managing Conflict

Last Updated December 29th 2022
7 Min Read

A feeling of discomfort and negative attitudes might arise subconsciously whenever you hear about conflict. Of course, conflicts are rarely desired, but very often, it’s them that move teams and organizations toward improvements and better solutions.

A halo of misconceptions surrounds conflicts and their regulation. Many common people tend to treat them with ignorance and think they will ‘dissolve’ naturally. Moreover, it’s often taken too personally when someone makes a mistake, tries to fight for this opinion anyway, and loses. Sides of conflict, in this case, see themselves as enemies.

In reality, conflicts are impossible to avoid. But it doesn’t mean your organization is unsuccessful. Misunderstandings and conflicts happen in all healthy teams and businesses and are a normal part of day-to-day life. How you treat them and what you do in the middle of confrontation determines their outcomes.

As a CEO, you play a mega-important role in managing conflicts. Although, it’s difficult to understand what role you should play every time.

Bruno Bailey is known for his work as a Chief Executive Officer at TechBerry and boasts over 7 years of experience in the position (since 2015). To guide you through, we compiled this article about Bruno Bailey’s advice to show how to handle disputes well.

Types Of Conflicts Overview

In your workplace, you are most likely to face these types of conflict:

  1. Interpersonal conflicts (2 or 3 individuals).
  2. Conflicts inside a group of people / one individual vs. the group.
  3. Conflicts inside organizations.
  4. Disputes between departments.

These conflicts can be based on various things: differences in views and values, interests, work methods, or simply workplace communication.

A director’s task is not to prevent conflicts from forming but rather to direct them. With your help, they can take a more constructive nature and drive people towards greater unity and searching for solutions.

Roles That A Smart CEO Should Take To Resolve Conflicts

While you can’t always predict how many conflicts your team will have and how serious they will be, you can be an essential element in managing them. Yes, it is tricky and requires lots of skills, such as generating ideas, problem solving, evaluating situations and specific cases, and being a peacemaker.

Remember, you’re not just a judge to decide who is right and who is wrong. You are a part of your team, just like all other people. Still, conflicts never resolve themselves. So, you have to be proactive but act smart.

Here are some useful tactics you could adopt to help the team grow and mature as they work together:

1. Finding compromise.

There must be something that all sides will find an excellent solution to. In other words, they exchange concessions while you are a medium or facilitator in the process of finding common ground. 

2. Encouraging collaboration.

If a conflict is rooted in a lack of wisdom or ideas, your task could be directing employees to work together for the resolution that all will be satisfied with. This includes placing a big goal for the team to bridge the existing gaps.

Still, while it can be a big goal, the trick is to break it down into small tasks and objectives. Then, make sure someone helps you perform it.

3. Accommodation.

This is the least intrusive way of leading conflicts to their logical ends. It consists of letting the situation settle down without your management to protect the atmosphere of trust in the team. It should be noted that this will work only in such environments where workers are conscious and likely to find solutions autonomously. In other cases, it leads to greater chaos and only makes it look good from the outside.

4. Making competition.

Of course, this involves a certain degree of healthy competition that, at some point, must result in working out the best outcome or showing the best result. This can only be fruitful when the problem is related to the workflow or some things that hinder progress in the company.

Suppose the heart of the conflict is an interpersonal dispute, which is all about relationships. In that case, the technique is unluckily useless and can damage the company’s effectiveness and working environment.

5. Guiding open discussion.

You may be surprised, but an open conversation is one of the best methods of a dispute. Simply bringing the conflicting sides together in one room can do a lot and speed up the search for a solution. This won’t let it ‘stew’ and get bigger like a snowball.

The first and most significant task here is to use your active listening. Don’t be tempted to ‘solve’ the issue quickly without delving into the matter and letting the sides air their thoughts. Listen to them to understand and show compassion. Collect facts, not separate opinions.

Your other tasks are to:

  • Clarify the issue & formulate it in a way that everyone understands.

The whole team needs to know how things are. Otherwise, they can distort events and spread false rumors.

  • Don’t take sides.

As a CEO, you are to treat your employees respectfully. If you show your preferences for specific people, this is not a sign of professionalism. 

  • Direct the attention to ‘what,’ not ‘who.’

Now, even if one of the workers made a terrible mistake, you don’t want to focus the whole organization on the person, okay? You gather to address an issue. Concentrate on ‘what’ you need to correct.  

  • Define what opposing sides agree on.

Areas of agreement and the same views are a starting point for finding the best solutions for people who don’t see eye to eye with each other. Metaphorically speaking, that is a good foundation for building a house.

  • Try to go for a win-win.

Yes, we already mentioned compromising as something that somewhat satisfied all participants. But attempt to view the situation in more detail as your meeting unfolds.

Your assignment is to make sure no one gets ignored or undermined. View facts with a sound mind, organize voting after the discussion, and move so that participants and their needs are not overlooked. 

If needed in the discussion, remind participants what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Bring out the core values and principles that act as the firm’s statements to correct any issues, but don’t blame anyone or be too personal in judgments.

6. Isolating the conflict.

This works when the conflict is between two or three people. Then you don’t need to spread the information and gather a meeting. Act in the opposite direction, not to drag more workers into the matter.

Avoid extra eyes, but don’t let the issue drift, either. Here you can act as a go-between and stick to the rule of non-announcing anything outside this small group.

7. Consult people with more experience.

Even as a leader, you can’t know everything. When in doubt, go for counseling, especially if you have people on your side who have worked for a longer time in this sphere and can offer valuable advice.

Sometimes it will feel like you’re a freshman at college but making such difficult calls can save teams. Besides, it won’t make you a less capable person. Getting experience and guidance from older and better managers will pay you off during your whole career. 

The Final Word

This systematized list of methods for dealing with conflicts might not cover all aspects, but it can certainly be helpful if you seek sound advice. At the same time, we are not saying that managing conflicts is easy or will ever be. Building healthy partnerships, letting workers uncover their full potentials and live up to them, encouraging a friendly atmosphere, and balancing work and personal life are not easy tasks.

But as your team grows and with every conflict solved successfully, people are going to become more close-knit, improve their ethics, train to live their values and work for the common goal. The key to good fruits is being consistent, never pretending that conflicts don’t exist or assuming you know everything, refraining from subjective conclusions, being transparent, and teaching this to your employees.

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