To answer the question, no. There isn’t a right way to handle conflict. Processes in start-ups are never linear, especially in the beginning stages. So when a disagreement arises between members of the start-up, there’s almost always a third party involved to resolve the issue.
People are different, and can also react to situations very differently. Processes and policies put in place in big corporates solve this issue. But when issues arise in start-ups, processes and policies are thought of.
What can start-ups do in the early stages to handle conflict?
Acknowledge that conflict will occur
Having to acknowledge that it will happen might seem cynical. But because people are different, the acknowledgement helps the start-up be realistic. Getting recognition in the beginning stages of a start-up is usually key. The beginning stages also include getting your product and service out to your target audience.
At this stage, handling conflict by creating processes would be the least of your worries. Or so you may think. Being in an organisation that was being run like a start-up before —I’ve seen that if there is no process behind handling conflict, operations may come to a halt, especially if you’re working in a small team.
Handle conflict according to its levels
To fast track my advice on how to handle disagreements between people, it’s important to first rate the level of conflict. The different levels could be a low, medium or high. It may also be hard to rate the different levels. How would a start-up actually measure which conflict is more important than the other? This, I believe, is at the discretion of the organization.
Identify each level and put processes in place to handle each level. Handle low or medium level disagreements internally within a few days or even hours. But a high level conflict means that a third party can be brought into resolve it and only the people involved should be addressed so that operations continue.
With any organisation, a culture fit between team members is important. People have different personalities, attitudes and different ways of reacting to situations. However, it is still very important to bring people into your start-up that know and understand the value of what the start-up is trying to achieve.
Eliminate continuous conflict by involving people that believe in the values of the start-up. Align your goals and values with that of the start-ups to become the right person to work with. This way even if conflict does arise, as it always does in any organisation, people know what their purpose of being in the organisation is.
With knowing and understanding the value of being in the organisation, the resolution stage can be much easier situation to reach.