As an organisational leader, you already know that addressing difficult situations with colleagues and subordinates is part of your job. But when it comes to conflict in the workplace, dealing with duelling employees is never easy. That said there are ways to approach difficult conversations directly and efficiently. Here are 5 ways for dealing with conflict in the workplace:
Approach conflict head-on
It is not possible to always prevent conflicts in the workplace. But as a manager, if you seek out areas of potential negativity and act in a decisive manner you will likely prevent any conflicts from arising. Being proactive is key as time spent identifying and understanding natural tensions in your team will help avoid unnecessary conflict.
Be a mediator, not a judge
When dealing with conflict in the workplace, while it’s preferable to allow people to resolve their own disputes, if that doesn’t happen or if the conflict is affecting their performance or the business itself, then you will have to become involved. You will need to set aside time to meet privately with each person involved in the conflict. When you meet with the employees in question, listen to their perspective and allow them time to express their thoughts and experiences.
Focus on the desired outcome
The next step is to summarise their respective positions and work towards helping them meet in the middle and subsequently work towards a conceptual agreement. This is the time all parties acknowledge the issue and begin to negotiate so a resolution can be found.
View conflict as opportunity
Smart managers will look for upside with the differing point of views and will recognise every conflict has the potential to be a teaching or learning opportunity. If you address a disagreement properly it can stimulate innovation and provide learning. What was the source of the conflict—Poor communication? Conflicts of interest? Limited resources? What steps can be implemented in the future to lower the risk of further conflict?
Choose your battles
Weigh the importance of the issue at hand before approaching the employee in question. You may discover that it’s not really worth all the time and energy and may create unnecessary conflict. If the situation is important enough, employees will open lines of communication to highlight any differences.
Since disagreement is inevitable in any environment, it makes good business sense to train employees and management on how to recognise and effectively deal with conflict in the workplace. Employees will spend less time battling one another and more time on business growth. Resolution can usually be found when both parties have sincere desire to do so. By following the steps outlined above, being an active listener and showing empathy, you will have the respect of your colleagues and the tools to stop conflict escalating.