10 Steps to Managing Employee Conflict

At one point or another, every leader will experience an employee conflict.

To prevent this situation, leaders must establish and maintain a positive environment where employees are motivated and the team works together.

Ideally, leaders should counsel their staff to guide and mentor them as part of their employee development plan.

Motivating Employees

Motivating employees is a leadership responsibility.

Perhaps a review of what motivates employees is in order, but the idea is conveying the concept of responsibility.

The definition of responsibility is being responsible, i.e., capable of making moral and rational decisions on one’s own and therefore answerable for one’s behavior.

A good leader seres the example by being responsible and they inspire team members to take ownership of their responsibilities as well.

It is the leader’s responsibility to establish an environment in which responsibility for success is shared by all and instill a sense of teamwork throughout the organization.

Leaders who set the example and live the corporate values will be most successful motivating employees.

When Employee Conflict Occurs

Employee welfare is one of the most important responsibilities for leaders and leaders can take advantage of potential conflict by converting it into a  developmental situation.

When that time comes, focus on the corrective actions that will lead to improvement, not the individual as a person or their character.Here are some tips, however, for counseling an employee conflict situation.

employee conflict

10 Steps in Counseling

Good leaders know that successful counseling occurs as close to the event as possible.

Perhaps most important is to remember to address the effect of the behavior, action, or performance on the rest of the organization, not the individual as a person or their character.

The leader must:

  1. Explain the purpose of the counseling—what was expected, and how the behavior failed to meet the standard.
  2. Address the unacceptable behavior or action—not the person’s character.
  3. Explain the effect of the behavior, action, or performance on the rest of the organization.
  4. Actively listen to the subordinate’s response.
  5. Remain neutral.
  6. Teach the subordinate how to meet the standard.
  7. Be prepared to do some personal counseling as the behavior or performance may be related to an unresolved personal problem.
  8. Explain to the subordinate how an individual development plan will improve performance and identify specific responsibilities in implementing the plan.
  9. Continue to assess and follow up on the progress.
  10. Adjust the plan as necessary.

Tom's Biography

​Tom Crea is a leadership expert, decorated career Army Officer, and Blackhawk Helicopter pilot.  Because of his proven skills, he was hand selected to run the Army’s leadership development program at two Boston colleges, where he and his team transformed college students into combat leaders. 

(Discover how to be a Guiding Light — 3-step process)

Today, he is a Servant Leadership ambassador: An author, keynote speaker, and leadership development coach. He is also a  radio show host.

Tom has a B.S. & M.C.S. in Computer Science and a M.A. in Political Science and loves coaching basketball and spending time with his wife and two boys.

Creating a Culture: 

Tom’s proudest leadership moment came when his unit was called to war in Iraq after he had rotated out. His replacement was not able to perform, so members he developed stepped up to lead; they attribute their success to the leadership Tom instilled in each of them. Today, the Blackhawk leadership way.