Tag: Negotiation Skills

Resolving Conflict in Your Team

Resolving Conflict in Your Team

Team leaders are often called in to help mediate conflicts within their team, or sometimes within other teams. Although many people dislike dealing with conflict, when it is managed properly, it can be a positive thing. With the proper tools, people are able to air their ideas and their issues, share information in a constructive manner, and work towards resolving their differences. All of this should result in a more productive, respectful, open workplace.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Using a Conflict Resolution Process

Having a pre-defined conflict resolution process is a valuable tool. This process will give any team leader an objective, neutral way to identify, explore, and resolve conflicts. We recommend using the OPEN technique.

On The Table – Identify positions, perceptions, interests, needs, concerns, goals, motivations
Put the Problem into Focus – What is the problem? What is not the problem? Make sure you identify the real root cause. Problems are often not what they seem!
Explore Your Options – Brainstorm Solutions. The objective here is quantity, not quality. Once you have some solutions, evaluate and come up with a short list.
Negotiate a Solution – Always aim for win-win.

After a solution has been negotiated, make sure to follow up and make sure that the conflict has indeed been resolved and that the proposed solution is working. If it is not working, it’s time to go back to the drawing board, perhaps with input from others (if appropriate).

Maintaining Fairness

During the conflict resolution process, it is very important that you remain objective and neutral to ensure that the process is fair to all. Key behaviors include:

  • Never taking sides, even if asked
  • Asking for, and encouraging, a response from all comments
  • Remaining objective and neutral, and avoiding subjective comments
  • Offering factual observations to both sides to help root out the key issues
  • Encouraging win-win solutions
  • Ensuring a balance of power is maintained, so that one side does not feel bullied or neglected

Seeking Help from Within the Team

At times, it may be appropriate to involve the entire team in conflict resolution. This often occurs when:

  • There is a conflict between all members of the team
  • There is a conflict between a few team members that is affecting the entire team

In these situations, it is important to have a face-to-face meeting of the entire team. Write the OPEN process on the flip chart. The team’s input should be greatest in the first three phases. In the negotiation phase, you (as the team leader) should ensure that the proposed solution will not negatively affect others or cause more conflict.

Seeking Help from Outside the Team

If the people in conflict are unable to resolve the problem with your assistance, and team assistance has not worked or is not appropriate, then it may be time to seek help from outside sources. This approach can also be used when you have a conflict of interest in the issue at hand.

Outside sources can include:

  • Other leaders
  • Mediators
  • Human resources personnel

No one with authority over the team (such as your manager) should be considered, as they may intimidate the people in conflict and take focus away from conflict resolution.

 

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Negotiation Skills for Team Leaders

Negotiation Skills for Team Leaders
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Team leaders want to influence and persuade team members to their side, but with those team members that are more assertive some bargaining may be required. In this article, we will be providing the team leader with some negotiating skills to win over their team. The process of negotiation can be divided into four phases: preparation, opening, bargaining and closing.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

The Preparation Phase

The preparation phase is essential; this is where half the battle is won through strategizing. It involves getting to know the other party’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as your own. Gathering this knowledge will help you decide on what is the right approach to take with the team member involved.

The following are some steps to help you with the preparation phase of the negotiation:

  • Research what is standard for the area of negotiation. Look for the strengths of your position and capitalize on them. Identify your weaknesses in order to anticipate possible attacks.
  • Know your boundaries and establish beforehand how much you are willing to concede and what is non-negotiable for you.
  • Step into the shoes of the team member and ask yourself what would you want to see or hear in order to give in.
  • Identify common ground and look for areas of mutual interests. If you can emphasize that a move stands to benefit both parties, you are more likely to get an agreement.
  • Prepare yourself mentally, emotionally and physically.
  • Make sure the negotiations will be at a place and time with which both parties are comfortable. Make sure the temperature, space and seating arrangements are conducive to a friendly discussion.

The Opening Phase

The way the negotiation session is opened can set the tone for the whole session. It is essential that you pay attention to how you or the team member opens the negotiation.

The following are some suggestions on opening a negotiation:

  • Show respect for the other party, and openness to the negotiation process. Simple courtesy can go a long way to breaking the ice and promoting a reasonable discussion.
  • Ask for more than what you want, the excess is your bargaining allowance.
  • Don’t accept the first offer.
  • Negotiate from a position of strength and don’t beg or defend your weak points.

The Bargaining Phase

The bargaining phase is the heart of the negotiation process. At times, bargaining can be easy but there are times when bargaining can be tedious. Sometimes negotiators can hold on to their stances stubbornly.

The following are some tips to bargain more effectively:

  • Take the time to listen carefully to what the other party is saying to you. You may pick up clues of what is of value to them and what counter-offer can make them give in.
  • Concede to get concessions. Your concessions can communicate to the other party that you also have their best interests at heart.
  • Use facts to bring people to your side and anchor your position on actual data. Making references to objective standards will strengthen your bargaining position.
  • Present the team member with options. People feel empowered when they have choices.
  • Make sure you phrase your requests, in a way, that is positive and a benefit to the team member.

The Closing Phase

The closing phase is just as essential as the opening one. Ensure the negotiation ends positively, and there is a satisfactory agreement for both sides.

The following are some tips for closing the negotiation:

  • Be sensitive to signals that it is time to close the negotiations. Look for the lessening of objections and counter arguments from the team member.
  • You can close the negotiation by presenting a summary of what has been achieved so far. Highlight the issues that have been resolved as well as the actions that are expected of the participants. A summary is a positive way of ending a negotiation because it makes everyone feel that the time was well-spent.
  • End your negotiation with gratitude and show your appreciation for the other party’s time and consideration.

 

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