One important management skill is the ability to diffuse tense situations. People are complex beings, and it is only natural that they should come into conflict from time to time. Although you can do some things to minimize the frequency of conflict within your organization, it will still occur. Work through this quiz about managing conflict and note down your responses to the questions. Once you’ve done this, you can convert your answers into points to understand how effectively you are managing conflict.
1. How frequently does internal conflict occur in your team?
A. The atmosphere is always tense, and conflict seems to break out almost daily
B. About once a week there will be an arguement
C. There is an occasional vocal disagreement
D. My team gets on very well together and acts professionally, conflict rarely occurs
2. Which of the following have occurred in your team in the last year? (Choose all that apply)
A. A fight or some other form of aggressive physical conflict
B. A team member in tears in response to someting said or done within the team
C. A loud argument between two or more team members
D. People deliberately avoiding talking to one another
3. When an employee comes to you with a grievance, how do you handle it?
A. Escalate it to HR because they know how to deal with it and you don’t want to be held responsible for making it worse
B. Try to ignore it – they’ll probably forget about it anyway
C. Take steps to address the problem before it gets worse
D. I encourage my team to come to me with their problems, and deal with them at an early stage
4. How would you describe your management style?
A. Tough, direct and uncompromising
B. Fair, confident and emphathetic
C. Careful and considerate but sometimes indecisive
D. Hands-off and distant
5. When you identify potential conflict, how soon do you intervene?
B. When I am sure there really is a problem and it’s not just idle banter
C. As soon as someone else confirms my suspicions that there is a problem
D. I leave it as long as possible in case the conflict burns itself out
6. Do you consider yourself to be a role model for your team?
A. Yes, I am professional and act accordingly, and ask the same of my team
B. Yes, I steer clear of gossip and am clear about the standards of behavior I expect from my team
C. Mostly, but I sometimes lose my temper or join in with gossip about team members
D. No, my team should do what I tell them regardless of how I act
7. Have you done any of the following in the last year? (Choose all that apply)
A. Taken credit for someone else’s work
B. Discriminated against any member of your team for any reason, even if just because you don’t like them
C. Ignore the established procedure when dealing with a conflict
D. Threatened or engaged in conflict with employees or other managers
8. Which of the following applies to one or more of the people you manage?
A. They have poor time-keeping or attendance records
B. They gossip about their colleagues behind their backs
C. They criticize excessively
D. They have short tempers and become angry quickly and often
Award yourself points as follows:
Q1 A 2, B 1, C 1, D 0
Q2 Add half a point for each that applies
Q3 A 2, B 2, C 1, D 0
Q4 A 2, B 0, C 1, D 2
Q5 A 0, B 1, C 2, D 2
Q6 A 0, B 0, C 1, D 2
Q7 Add half a point for each that applies
Q8 Add half a point for each that applies
0-6 Well done! You seem to be managing conflict very well, and you rarely have to intervene to split up an argument. Either you have just been lucky and the people you work with are naturally sociable and able to sort out their disagreements among themselves or you have build a good team and managed it well. You can congratulate yourself for a job well done, but be careful not to be complacent: you must keep working conflict at bay.
7-10 Although there is occasional conflict, you are managing it as it arises. You should concentrate on two areas: reducing the likelihood of conflict in the first place and handling it more reliably when it does occur. You may benefit from some training in this area. You need to come up with a plan of action to bring your team closer together.
11-16 You seem to live with conflict as a constant companion. The atmosphere in your team is very tense and it must be difficult for all of you to get on with productive work in these circumstances. You need to find a solution to diffuse this conflict, and quickly! Team-building exercises are one possible solution. If things are too far advanced for this, and there is a clash of personalities within your team, it may be necessary to split people up by moving people between roles within your organization. One thing is for sure: you cannot carry on as you are.