Managing and resolving conflicts in a politically inclined group of team members

This article was written by one of our passionate readers, Ms Rachel Everly. The opinions expressed within reflect only the writer’s views and not The European Sting’s position on the issue.

In every workplace, where teamwork is an integral part of the working process, conflicts are inevitable. However, in a politically charged environment, many managers decide to either ignore it or blame someone for it. Conflicts need to be handled with a strategic plan, and constructive steps. If you leave it on its own for too long, it becomes easy to get pulled into arguments, where you become the center of a colossal mess.

Why Workplace Politics Happens

  • Many times people have to compete amongst themselves for the limited resources the organization has. This leads to conflicts between teams where they are only focusing on their needs and goals instead of the bigger
  • In the workplace usually, some people hold more authority than others do. This could be due to some sort of influential basis, or hierarchical authority.
  • Most people like to be a part of the decision-making Hence they try to get their way if they are not directly in charge of making the decisions.
  • For a lot of people, getting a promotion is all they aim for, and therefore they’ll do anything to achieve their goals. When competition exists, it can mess with the objectives of the team where personal goals get in the way of strategy.

Read on for some tips on how to manage politically inclined workplace conflicts.

Getting to Know the Informal Network

Office Politics have a way of circumventing the formal chain of command. Once you know who is really playing which role in your organization, you become a step closer to understanding the social network of the workplace. It will be easier to resolve a conflict when you realize who the people who get along are. Also, notice if there any groups that have formed even though there are no separate teams.

The most important thing to notice is what makes the basis of interrelationship? Is it manipulation, respect or friendship? This will help you target the people who can help you resolve the situation.

Changing the Organization Chart

If you have the power to remap the organization chart, you might have to resort just that; especially when a conflict feels like it won’t be resolved through negotiation. First, sit back and watch for a bit. Notice who the real influencers are, who is respected by all, the person with real authority but never uses it, and the actual genius that is driving the organization. Once you know, redo the chart accordingly.

Listen

Make a habit of spending time listening more and speaking less. This way you save yourself from saying the wrong things or say something that may quickly be taken out of context. The plus of this is that people tend to like people who like them.

Be the Neutralizer

Once you know what role the people you work with really play, your first instinct might be to run away from the toxic ones. However as one who needs to manage and resolve a conflict when it may arise you must use your social connections. Understand what really motivates these people, and what their real goals are. This is the only way you will learn to counter the negative situation that is brewing.

Building Relationships

Once you dispel a conflict in a workplace, your job is to make sure that it does not keep happening again and again. The key to this is that as a leader you build your own social network.

To do that you must mingle with politically influential people in the workplace, remember that it is okay to have relationships across the formal hierarchy. Also, it doesn’t help to build a relationship with empty flattery, your social contacts with people in the organization must be built on respect and trust. Make sure that you are friends with all groups and not come out as favoring only one. Moreover, make sure that you become a part of multiple networks.

Is It All Because of You

As a leader, if you have favorites it may just spark that ambition in others to not play a fair game. When people are looking up to you, it is essential that you act as if they are the most important people to you, because, to them, you definitely are.

Don’t Hold Grudges

If you have ever been in the middle of a deadly conflict, you should forgive even if you don’t forget. Once you have addressed an issue, move on. Later on for whatever reason if you choose to return the favor you kept yourself from doing all that time ago, it will only look bad for you.

Keep Yourself in Check

Make sure that you observe and focus on what works for your organization and what does not. Naturally, you will identify successful behaviors and model them, but you won’t necessarily catch on what these people do to dispel conflicts. For yourself, you must adhere to specific rules that will keep from politics spreading, or you being pulled into it.

When dealing with a situation always be assertive but not aggressive. Be the one who rises above any personal conflicts, don’t pass on questionable judgments or spread rumors. It is essential that when you hear something, you think with a cool head on how much credibility it might hold. Finally, when you voice objections, present your perspective as an organizational one, instead of what may seem to harbor a personal agenda.

It is crucial that you accept the fact that office politics will forever exist. You must do everything that you can to first prevent them instead of waiting to deal with them; hire intelligently by screening all potential candidates carefully, it helps if you put them on the spot on how they feel about office politics and see how they react.

There will be days when you are countering something you dispelled a while ago, but you cannot dedicate your focus entirely to it. Instead, devote your precious time to manage your own projects.

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