They’re at it again. Bob and Stefan are arguing over a budget allocation. Last time it was the details of the team retreat. Janel, their boss, has tried telling them to work out their differences. She knows she needs to step in to facilitate a permanent solution to this ongoing conflict.

Janel gets along with and respects both Bob and Stefan. She feels that she can facilitate this conflict resolution with a calm, rational perspective. How can she proceed to set up the best outcome?

  • Interview each party separately to understand if there is an agreement on the source(s) of the conflict
  • Arrange a meeting with both people, and set ground rules, including listening completely, being respectful and honest and maintaining confidentiality
  • Start the meeting by helping conflicting parties understand the bigger picture – the impact of their conflict on themselves and others
  • Teach and model carefully listening and summarizing what the other person said to ensure mutual understanding
  • Only delve into history when different perceptions about it are a roadblock; otherwise, stay future-focused
  • Make sure commitments are clear, including the time frame to get them done

Janel is right to expect that her people will learn to “play nice.” When that doesn’t work, it is the leader’s job to help them find a lasting solution.


Let’s work together to keep your people from fighting like cats and dogs.

Photo from iStockphoto.