6 Tips Administrators Can Use to Work Through Staff Conflict
Human relationships are prone to disagreements over diverse opinions, and this can deteriorate into conflicts. Teachers in a school environment are not exempted, especially with the distress and emotional burden their jobs put on them. School leaders should anticipate and prevent situations that precede disputes between staff members. Also, the teachers should be encouraged to resolve the issues maturely, thus strengthening working relationships.
One of the fundamental duties of school administrators is to guide their staff through conflict while molding these individuals into a cooperative team of teachers. This article outlines six suggestions on how to handle staff disputes.
1. Become a mediator between the conflicting parties.
It is nearly impossible for the parties involved in a dispute to reach a common ground or listen to reasoning because of their emotions. Thus, a third party who can address the bone of contention objectively, listen to their grievances, ask tough questions, and chart the course towards an amicable resolution is necessary.
Mediation is a very delicate task that people get better at the more they practice it. In a school setting, it must not be done by someone at the same level as the disputing parties. The mediator must have some authority over them, and this is usually the school administrator.
2. Help both parties to voice out their concerns.
There are a million reasons for disagreements among co-workers that can result in conflict. And often, these disagreements are not repressed for too long. Suppressing these emotions of irritation for too long and not voicing them leads to a buildup of resentment and hatred. This situation can be counter-productive for a learning environment, so staff members should be motivated to be forthcoming with their colleagues. On many occasions, these offenses are unintentional, and both parties can reach an amicable resolution effortlessly, but reconciliation is only possible when the parties express the problem openly.
3. Don’t form friendships on your staff.
Your role as a school leader is to lay the foundation for a favorable learning environment, and teachers only need to have respect for their colleagues and their boundaries for this to happen. Colleagues that forge friendships can figure that out themselves; you only have to make sure that whenever a conflict arises, you provide every necessary help to the staff involved to resolve their discord. Bringing them back on the same page is vital for efficient service delivery to the students.
4. Set rules that give everyone a voice.
Setting ground rules assist teams in averting disorder and engaging in sincere discussions on conflicts. One such principle is to agree on the confidentiality of information given during the mediation process and that no one talks over the other. You can also adopt an active listening protocol and create a system where any of the parties knows when to speak or react or are obligated to listen. These rules will introduce serenity and control in what would have been a rowdy conversation, ensuring that the time expended is indeed productive.
5. The classroom should be out of bounds to staff issues.
Whatever happens between staff members must remain between them and not spill into the classrooms. Teachers spend a significant amount of time in the students’ company and may feel tempted to express their grievances against another member of the staff in their presence to score cheap points. This action can breed disrespect and resentment towards the other teacher and divide them into factions, forcing them to pick sides with their favorite teacher. It is up to school administrators to ensure that disputes between teachers remain between them, and both parties settle their differences without involving the students.
6. Keep in touch with the teachers involved until peace returns.
Teachers want to feel that their cases are valuable to the school leader. After convening a meeting to broker peace amongst the affected teachers, you should check on them to see how they are settling in.. You can do this by paying impromptu visits to the classroom or making inquiries about their welfare through an email.
The best route to cultivating a professional and robust staff culture is to build an accessible line of communication between the staff and the school administration. Assisting them in resolving disputes is one way to accomplish this. Also, by keeping tabs on the mediation process, you can ensure that the resolution reached is the real panacea to the dispute and not a temporary fix.
Your members of staff are humans, and so at times, they will disagree with each other. It’s your job as a school leader to ensure that the conflicts don’t infect the school culture; instead, it should present an opportunity for learning and growth.