Six Steps to Resolve Conflict in the Workplace
30 Jun 2021 | Anne Marie Fogarty
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Regardless of where one works, workplace conflict is inevitable. We are all different and getting along all of the time can be challenging even for the tightest of teams. When people tend to agree to everything that’s said without expressing different opinions, that can be a red flag.
Most experts agree that the most effective teams are the ones that are comfortable disagreeing with each other. Even though disagreements at our places of work can be a huge buzzkill, they can encourage better decision-making, diversity of thought, and most importantly, they can spur innovation.
Every organisation has its fair share of challenges. However, workplace conflict is common in almost all organisations. There is no human resource manager who will ever tell you that their place of work is heaven on earth. In as much as workflow may be as smooth as a glider, it is not always rainbows and sunshine.
That said, workplace conflict resolution is crucial. Those in leadership positions must know how to extinguish bushfires effectively. In other words, human resource managers and supervisors must master the subtle techniques of dealing with workplace conflicts before they get out of hand.
How exactly should they do this? Let’s find out.
Workplace conflict resolution techniques
Research has shown that workplace conflicts can be costly if they are not addressed on time. Workplaces stand to lose a lot if their members don’t settle their differences and work together to achieve a common goal.
By not addressing workplace conflicts, organisations lose money and risk losing valuable employees who may walk away and take their talents and abilities elsewhere.
Before taking a look at different workplace resolution techniques, let’s analyze some of the things that fire up conflicts in our places of work. To successfully solve a problem, we must first find out its root cause.
What causes workplace conflicts?
All workplaces are decorated with diverse personalities. Unfortunately, sometimes that includes manipulative individuals whose main weapon of choice is emotional blackmail and telling half-truths, among other things. Such drama seekers are always quick to point fingers whenever they are confronted. In as much as they might be good at what they do, they are experts at coming up with face-saving lies that might wrongfully implicate their workmates. Such employees are professionals at playing the blame game whereby they portray themselves as the victims of an unfortunate situation.
Managers should calmly find out the cause of any conflict. They will often be able to spot manipulative employees and their intentions from a mile away.
When a supervisor or HR manager is trying to find out the cause of conflict in a workplace, they must consider all aspects of negativity without judging an employee’s personality. They must consider negative traits such as jealousy, pride, ego, compensation issues, power struggles, performance discrepancies, competitive tension, and opposing positions. At times, an employee can fly off the handle simply because they are having a bad day. As such, when you want to resolve conflict in the place of work, it is crucial to find out what caused the conflict in the first place.
Six ways of dealing with workplace conflict
By now, it’s clear that workplace conflict creates barriers to collaboration and cooperation. It also stifles innovation and creativity, which eventually leads to the loss of productivity and reduced profits.
So, how do we deal with workplace conflicts?
- Never postpone conflict resolution
Always deal with workplace conflicts that flare up as soon as you get wind of them. Postponing conflict resolution is like adding gasoline to fire. Ignoring conflicts will affect employees’ overall performance and some of the best workers may quit. When employees quit, an organisation takes a step backwards because it must go through the hiring and training process all over again. Doing so is expensive and time-consuming.
Most conflicts arise as a result of misinformation, no information, poor information, or lack of information. Clear, timely, accurate, and concise communication of information goes a long way in preventing workplace conflicts. Ensure that there is a smooth flow of information between individuals and departments. Welcome suggestions and create an environment where every employee is free to speak their mind without feeling inferior, belittled, or ignored.
Good communication also involves active listening. Take your time to listen to the cause of the conflict. Go to a neutral place with the conflicting parties and request them to highlight their issues. Listening before speaking out is the first step of troubleshooting solutions.
- Identify agreement and disagreement points
Handling workplace conflicts involves identifying agreement and disagreement points. When doing this, draw a line by defining acceptable behaviour. Remind the parties in conflict that you are a team working to achieve a common goal and working together in harmony to achieve each worker’s objectives.
- Be impartial
As a manager, the rule of the thumb is always to be a fair referee. Be impartial. Never let your words or actions show favouritism towards a specific individual, even if the employee is right. When solving workplace conflicts, focus on events and behaviours more than employees’ personalities.
- Prioritize highlighted areas of conflicts
Pay attention to what the disagreeing parties have pointed out as the areas of conflict. Solely focus on such points. Give the parties a chance to suggest different ways of dealing with the problem at hand. Doing so will show them that they have the power to solve the conflict themselves. The main advantage of doing this is that it encourages employees to solve future disputes that might arise without engaging the human resource manager. This creates a healthy work environment.
- Promote teamwork and broadcast praise
One of the most powerful tools of promoting productivity is motivating and encouraging employees. Remind your employees that all successful projects require united teams working on them. You should also give credit where it is due. Whenever employees cooperate and excel and in teamwork. Shower them with praises publicly.
We pride ourselves on being open communicators when it comes to conflict resolution. Communication is key for our people-first model within the business. Fostering an atmosphere where every person’s opinion matters has led us to form a great team at ProMedical. Not everyone gets along absolutely all of the time, but having a constructive and effective conflict resolution strategy in place helps to resolve challenging issues before they escalate.
Our People-First approach centres our greatest resource – our team, at the core of our success.