By Paul Russell, director and co-founder, Luxury Academy London
- Understand conflict: In any conflict it is suggested that there are three core ingredients: perception, interdependence and resources. Those involved have to perceive that there is a conflict, the interdependence comes in team members’ likely close working relationships within the boutique hotel. And finally, the fire-starter that is conflict over levels of resources such as money, power and prestige. In such close confines, that colleagues may discuss promotions, pay and perks is inescapable.
- Conflict resolution: As conflict is experienced not only cognitively through perception, but emotionally through our feelings and behaviourally through what we do about it, conflict resolution must incorporate cognitive, emotional and behavioural skills. The ultimate aim for boutique hoteliers is minimising harm to employees involved within the conflict and promoting positive outcomes.
- Find the right style: Your conflict management style is said to be a mixture of your concern for yourself and your concern for others. Evaders are low on both and will leave staff to sort out their own squabbles or sidestep concerns, but in a boutique environment this can be detrimental to service quality. Conceders’ only concern is for others and tend to placate staff with little thought to long term implications. Dominators actually care very little about staff and will only intervene when their own position is challenged- often too late in the day. Finally, Problem Solvers are concerned for everyone and actively seek to understand the conflict from all viewpoints.
- Equip yourself for conflict: Academics suggest that up to 20% of a manager’s time can be spent on conflict resolution of some kind. It pays then to be prepared. When approaching any conflict between staff, the essential skills you need are communication, mediation, negotiation and consensual decision making- the type of decision making that takes into account the views of all involved.
- Approach the conflict: And finally it is time to assess the situation and manage the conflict, talking to staff to uncover feelings, understanding any workplace incidents/behaviours and also acknowledging any manager led actions that may have led to conflict in the hotel such as pay structures, appraisals, even reward systems. A boutique hotel should have its own inimitable style with a service offering that is anything but prescriptive and in many ways this should be your bible for managing conflict with staff. Aim for a style that has medium to high concern for all and be prepared to vary your tactics as the situation demands.