If you're finding conflict with people under you, you're almost certainly managing VERY BADLY. Employees start working with an organisation with the intent of forming good friendships, establishing a successful career path, and being there for years to come, rising through the organisation and become more and more useful to that organisation. Something has gone very wrong in the organisation itself, if an employee SEEMS to be doing the opposite of that.
The problem is almost always of boundaries, expectations, and interaction points BETWEEN staff, rather than with the staff themselves. As the manager who sets up these structures, it is YOU that is largely in control of that.
Don't expect an employee to communicate this kind of structural problem to you; it is not their place, and they know it. Don't tell people what to do or keep checking up on them. Don't fight the people who are ON YOUR SIDE. They're adults too; they don't need to be fought with and controlled like unruly children.
The VERY FIRST thing you need to do is purge any ideas of blame. You are seeking solutions, not faults. No one is to blame for this -- and that's just as well, since, as explained above, you are largely the one with the power to affect it one way or another.
The main part of the solution will be to give your subordinates power over their area of expertise. After all, they have been hired to do a job, and they're the ones qualified to do it -- not even their managers, who are qualified ONLY to manage (and really to manage processes, not people). Assign staff a domain, which ONLY they control. Give this domain very clear boundaries: information or tasks that go in, information or tasks that come out. Anything that happens inside is NOT your business -- or anyone elses. They have their area, they have their responsibilities, they get on with them, and report back to you through those standard inputs and outputs.
What does this accomplish? It turns your whole organisation into a well-oiled machine, with no conflicts, unless someone is REALLY failing at their work, in which case THEY will most likely come to you and say "I can't cope with this" or "We need to hire more people for my department" -- both things you can respond POSITIVELY and helpfully toward.
Does that sound like what you're doing now? If you're finding conflicts, you're probably doing almost the opposite.
Look into holacracy for more on this.
· 8 years ago