Although a dispute often arises from a single incident, it can easily become an ongoing conflict situation if not quickly resolved. The presence of an unresolved conflict in the workplace can drastically impact an entire team of employees. This can result in a decrease in morale, lower productivity and an overall toxic workplace atmosphere.
Common Reasons for Workplace Conflicts
Poor communication among co-workers is a common reason why conflict in the workplace develops. Divergent interests, values and personalities may also be sources of conflict among members of a company.
Approaching Workplace Conflicts
Managers tend to spend more time than they desire trying to resolve workplace conflicts. There are usually two common responses to a conflict situation—either ignore it or fight it out. Neither of these approaches will lead to a satisfactory outcome for all parties involved. Instead, workplace conflicts should be sorted out in a positive and constructive manner. Through the use of techniques that allow for collaboration and promote compromise, a mutually beneficial resolution of the conflict can be achieved.
Effective Ways to Resolve Workplace Conflict
As a manager, you can attempt to resolve conflict at your workplace by taking the following steps:
• Allow those involved in the conflict to articulate the causes of the conflict. It is important for the parties to the conflict to feel that they are given an equal chance to be heard in an impartial way. They should be allowed to express themselves in a comfortable setting and without the fear of being subjected to any negative repercussions for doing so. Also, if the parties are made aware that different perspectives about the conflict should exist, then there is a greater likelihood of putting everybody at ease when expressing their views.
• Ensure that the parties to the conflict understand why it must be resolved. It may be necessary to inform the parties that the conflict they are engaged in is impacting their colleagues and the overall atmosphere of the workplace. A first step towards resolution may be to emphasize the parties’ talents and to indicate that they make necessary and important contributions to the organization.
• Directly communicate with the parties involved in the conflict. It is desirable to address the issues of the conflict through face-to-face meetings instead of through other impersonal forms of communication. Of crucial importance for the manger is to become an active listener when hearing from each party. Doing so will allow the manager to extract the key issues that underlie the conflict and to focus on the core of the problem.
• Understand that discussing the events that gave rise to the conflict can cause highly charged emotions among the parties. This may impair the ability of everybody involved in the conflict to remain focused on finding a productive resolution. A prudent decision the manager of the conflict could make in such a situation is to adjourn the session to a later date. By taking this step the parties should be able to return to the conflict resolution session with a demeanor that is more conducive to working out a solution.
• Try to create a solution that is agreeable to all parties that ensures the same conflict does not happen again. Getting to that point could require more time and patience then was initially anticipated. Through encouraging the parties to suggest practical suggestions to deal with the issues that have caused the conflict, there is a greater likelihood that a successful and permanent resolution of the conflict will result.
• Find a common basis that will unite the parties to the conflict. If the manager can help the parties recognize the common interests and goals they have, then there is a strong chance that they will work together towards resolving the conflict and to meeting their common interests and goals.
The management of conflict resolution can be very challenging. Without an effective procedure for resolving conflict in the workplace, the burden on the manager to resolve the conflict will increase. If you are looking to improve your conflict management skills and your communication skills, the Stitt Feld Handy Group offers comprehensive alternative dispute resolution courses to human resources managers, employees, entrepreneurs, and people involved in all forms of business.