5 Tips for Resolving Conflict in the WorkplaceJune 21, 2016 - By: Matt Thomas
Each of your employees have distinctly different personalities. The varying thought processes and work habits typically result in a collaborative environment, ideal for productivity. However, these personal differences can sometimes lead to conflict in the office.
Leaders who are able to recognize conflict, understand the nature of conflict and bring resolution to conflict will serve the office well. Are you inclined to ignore conflict? Ignoring conflict altogether is the worst thing a leader could do.
The following tips will help leaders more effectively handle conflicts in the workplace:
1. Establish what’s acceptable, and make it known company-wide.
Clearly and publicly make it known what will and will not be tolerated at work. Create a framework to help define what constitutes acceptable behavior in order to deter conflict. These guidelines should encourage appropriate business practices in collaboration, team building, leadership development and talent management. It’s important to also have clearly defined job descriptions so that your employees know what is expected of them. Additionally, a well-thought-out chain of command can pave the way for effective communication.
2. Tackle the issue when both parties have calmed down.
It’s difficult to have a productive discussion when tempers flare. If you notice an issue beginning to develop – say, an individual isn’t pulling their weight on a team project – don’t ignore the signs. It’s best to discuss a potential issue before it escalates. By addressing the issue early, you can avoid a bigger problem.
3. Practice active listening.
Perhaps an employee approaches you about a promotion they feel they deserved, but didn’t receive. It’s important to pay attention and hear them out. Ask questions and try to understand the employee’s perspective. In the discussion, focus on behaviors needed to reach a resolution on the issue, rather than spinning the conversation into a personality clash that could further escalate the conflict.
4. Keep a positive outlook.
Never approach a conflict assuming the other person is unwilling to work toward a solution. It’s always possible, even likely, that the person desires resolution and is simply frustrated about the current situation. Conflicts should always be aired calmly and with an open mind. Pick your battles and avoid conflict for the sake of conflict. Remember, if the issue is important enough to create a conflict, then it is surely important enough to resolve.
5. View conflict as opportunity.
Every conflict has potential as a teaching or learning opportunity, even if it feels hidden at the moment. Believe it or not, disagreement inherently carries potential for growth and development. As a leader, leverage conflict as an occasion for team building. Conflicts addressed properly can stimulate learning in ways you may have never thought of on your own.
Encourage employees to recognize the chance to reflect and readjust after conflicts arise. If handled the right way, conflicts can allow employees to better appreciate another perspective, clarify their own interests, strengthen bonds and discover new ways to move forward as a company.