Fleetwood Mac are one of the worlds longest standing and best selling bands of all time, but behind the scenes, there was a substantial amount of conflict, giving a fantastic example of how conflict can be effectively managed yet production of work and standards remain high.
The song Go Your Own Way, was written about the breakdown in relationship between Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, and in fact the whole Rumours album was apartied to the imploding relationships throughout the whole band. If you look at the footage of that era, you can see the distain and strain upon the various relationships, yet they performed on stage and recorded together as a collective. This is often referred to as having a case of the “Mac” and situations like this are not unusual within our workplaces.
So how was this managed so well? Conflict management is incredibly complex and a subject that line managers spend a lot of time on, at the end of the day, we don’t have to get along with everyone that we work with, but we do have to be professional and abide by the policies and procedures outlined by the company.
Breakdowns in relationships at work are not uncommon and they can arise for many reasons, which can be difficult for employers to predict and manage. It could be due to poor communication or because of poor control of emotions. An employee’s emotions are obviously beyond your control, but you can control how your team communicates. This is where Emotional Intelligence enters as a new skillset that managers are required to learn as employees become increasingly aware of their employment rights, the issues become more complex, leaving line managers at risk of being caught out and exposing the organisation to legal risks.
It is important for managers not to avoid the conflict when it is identified and it certainly shouldn’t be expected to be eliminated altogether, it is a fact that should be accepted. Even to this day Fleetwood Mac are still feeling the effects of conflict!
The key to managing conflict is all about how the situation is approached, by being proactive and facing the conflict head-on, gives you an opportunity to address the problem in the early stages. The difficulty lays with the perception of the conflicting employees to enable them to overcome their differences whilst attempting to repair the damaged relationship. As a manager or even sometimes a HR professional, this can be an incredibly uncomfortable process of identifying, understanding, and resolving conflict because one thing that conflict is guaranteed to be is personal.
Another way of supporting through conflict; the business needs to be clear with its standards and expectations of acceptable behaviours. This may be a really obvious starting point, by clearly stating that certain negative behaviors such as bullying are unacceptable and that the business will not tolerate such behaviours, may help an employee think carefully before behaving badly. The more you work on this within your teams or your business, you can positively influence to create a culture of respect.
Once you understand the conflict and the root of it, then you can begin to address the issue. It is also important to be mindful that the conflicting situation you face, may not be the actual roots of the conflict as it may have been left unresolved and therefore has escalated into a much more personal issue.
An effective way to manage conflict is by actively listening, understanding and supporting both parties, this can be through a mediation process. Remember that ignoring conflict doesn’t make it disappear, it only makes it worse, so the sooner it is handled, the easier it is to manage with minimal impact on the immediate surrounding areas and team members.
So if you do have a case of the Mac in your business, then do keep in mind, it is easier to manage if you don’t break The Chain, sorry even I can admit that was a bad one but couldn’t resist!