Why do we need to talk about workplace conflict resolution? Well let’s start by accepting that it does exist. Conflict is a fact of life. We are all unique, and have different needs and wants. We often have to compete for resources, time and attention. And this can make people uncomfortable, and sometimes trigger intense emotions.
But consider that conflict is often necessary and beneficial. It can bring new ideas and perceptions to the surface. It can shake us out of our rut. Think about how boring The Lang & O’Leary Exchange would be if they always agreed on things! When managed effectively, conflict can eventually lead to deeper understanding and strong relationships.
What Managers Need to Know about Workplace Conflict Resolution
People deal with conflict in different ways, usually based upon the rules that were imposed during childhood. Therefore, we might expect variation across generations and cultures. For example, consider those who were raised during the “children should be seen and not heard” generation, where it was inappropriate for a child to challenge an adult. Likewise, some cultures still consider this disrespectful behavior. These workers may chose to avoid confrontation, and perhaps be quite offended if others openly criticize their idea.
On the other end of the scale, we may have individuals that had to be confrontational and aggressive in order to survive.
So the challenge with workplace conflict resolution is to ensure that the issues are brought out without damaging relationships, decreasing productivity and/or putting the organization at risk. And as we are dealing with human emotions, this is no simple task! It takes experience, patience, trial and error. As I discovered in my career, there is often more below the surface of the issue than we realize.
How can we effectively resolve conflict in the workplace?
We need to make it a priority. It is worth taking some time to be proactive in managing conflict in the workplace. Here are my top 3 tips for conflict resolution in the workplace:
- Clearly define and communicate the expectations of behavior in dealing with conflict. Provide examples of what is healthy and acceptable, such as respectful discussions or mediation. Also provide examples of those behaviors that will not be tolerated – such as insults, starting rumors or work interruptions. Identify the consequences of unacceptable behavior.
- Continually encourage healthy behaviors. For example, asking quieter employees to express their opinions, or asking questions to clarify different perspectives. Providing employees with some training on communication and conflict management techniques can provide much benefit.
- Monitor ongoing and escalating conflict between individuals. This can indicate that there is more than the surface issue, and may require mediation by a trained professional. Remind the parties involved of the workplace expectations for behavior and consequences of non-compliance.
Develop Advanced Leadership Skills
Whether it’s for yourself or your employees – developing specialized leadership skills can greatly improve performance and reduce conflict in your workplace. We specialize in Cross Cultural Leadership and Strategic Management Training.
Learn specialized techniques with our Strategic Management Training system