Top 20 HR Most Influential Thinker, thought leader and founder of Engage Leadership David Liddle reveals his practical guide for leaders facing team conflict (

Working in hospitality has always been one of the most physically demanding sectors. It’s said that over a third spend between eight and ten hours completely upright, causing physical pain. But with mounting pressures of lockdowns and Brexit visa requirements, the industry has greatly suffered too.A report from stated that 3⁄4 of London’s hospitality workers hailed from the EU pre-Brexit – most of which were forced to leave the industry. Upright working directly impacted mental wellbeing of staff, now exacerbated by immense staffing shortages. Our famed and favoured pubs, restaurants and cafes simply couldn’t cope over Christmas.

What happens when we’re under massive strain like this? Much of the time, we fight. As mental health deteriorates and exhaustion kicks in, we’re far more likely to find ourselves in conflict with colleagues or even customers. With fractured teams, misaligned behaviours and rising disputes the running theme of the working day, how can our leaders handle the heat?

It all boils down to effective management.With the right toolkit, those in charge have the power to build bonds, repair damage and boost productivity. In short, it’s about courageous, competent and confident leadership. And as we surge back into our prized pubs with the end of Plan B firmly underway, it’s more important than ever to bounce back with strong, resilient and united teams.


It’s well known in the business world that role modelling positive behaviours will trickle down the pack. A Gallup poll proves that 70% of team engagement is determined solely by the manager at hand.When situations turn sour, it’s the time for leaders to truly lead by example. Diffusing tense situations can be successful in five simple steps:


Prioritise guiding colleagues through crisis and conflict by facilitating empowered, confident and well-structured conversations. Be curious, questioning and constructive whilst always listening actively to the discussion.


Make sure to clearly define and communicate your company vision with staff, aligning employee values and behaviours to reflect this.This will create a strong team purpose that staff can fall back on.


Showing resilience and agility can be a great support to struggling staff, particularly those that may be mentally and physically drained.


Account for differing personality types, demonstrating flexible leadership styles. At times, it may make sense to be more autocratic, and sometimes it will be necessary to let your team take the wheel.


When the going gets tough, focus on reinforcing those standards that you’ve so clearly defined and communicated. It helps to remind your co-workers of team culture, especially when they’re feeling the pressure.

Improving employee experience through confident, competent and courageous leadership is of utmost importance to any thoughtful manager. In a direct customer-facing environment like hospitality, it’s even more vital as healthy and harmonious teams will in turn enhance customer experience. Bounce back from circumstances out of your hands – Brexit, Plan B, burnout – by managing what is under your control well.