There is always a vertical manager hierarchy in every organization. Some companies this hierarchy is short, others can be quite layered. When it comes to problem solving protocol, there are typically rules to follow. One well known rule is you never leap frog your direct reporting manager. This is proven political and career ending suicide. I want to address a lessor known, or possibly not practiced, management protocol regarding lateral conflict resolution.
When conflict arises between intradepartmental team members, it’s leaderships’ role to resolve it, while retaining the team member’s relationship.
Here are the steps that have worked in my experiences:
- One or both of the conflicting team members contacts their direct manager and explains the situation
- The direct manager contacts the non-direct member’s manager
- The two, or more, managers involved in the situation discuss resolution, independent of the team members (this does not exclude input from the team member)
- These managers explain the resolution to their direct reports
The benefit from this conflict resolution approach preserves the day-to-day working relationship of the team members.
This protocol can be effective at any level of management. I would hope the higher up the leadership chain the conflict rises, the quicker the solution, based on all the factors contributing to this level’s position. Too often, conflict resolution is restricted to the team member and reporting manager. This eliminates the other parties involved in the conflict and reduces resolution success, at least in the long term.