Critical Tips for Managing Workplace Conflict
If not handled correctly, workplace conflicts between managers or co-workers can quickly lead to an unsatisfied workforce, lost downtime, or unnecessary employee turnover. To help you navigate any future disputes between employees, we have the top tips for handling and preventing workplace conflict.
When Conflict Arises, Embrace It
When a conflict happens and is ignored, the tension that occurs, as a result, can keep building over time. Instead of avoiding conflict or pretending that nothing has happened, it’s important to deal with uncomfortable issues as soon as possible, before problems and bad feelings become embedded in everyday work.
In order to remedy the situation, encourage employees to resolve any conflicts head-on. When more than two people are involved, it’s an opportunity to improve interdepartmental communication and work on improving overall business relationships and policies.
When a conflict between employees occurs, set up a suitable time and place for remediation without outside interruptions. Also, have each employee practice effective communication techniques that include:
- Sharing negative emotions only in person instead of through impersonal means such as e-mail, voice messages, or notes
- Use the phrase ‘I understand’ to offer support when tensions are high
- Resist the temptation to interrupt when the other person is speaking
- Repeat exact words or phrases to keep speakers centered on difficult topics of conversation
Keep in mind that conflict resolution is not the time to attack or assign blame. By staying focused on the problem, you can avoid negative opinions or defamation of character.
Listening carefully to another person’s views of the conflict you’re in can be difficult, but it’s necessary for gaining an understanding of their perspective. Make sure to ask clarifying questions when needed, and request repetition of central ideas to keep the conversation focused on the conflict.
When mediating a conflict, learn to listen to both sides of the conversation. A mediator’s point of view can look for the creative compromise that considers the limits and the needs of both parties.
Uncover a Suitable Agreement
Although your conversation will focus primarily on the disagreements, a resolution is only possible if points of agreement are found. The goal of managing a workplace conflict is to emerge from the experience with some positives instead of all negatives.
To help reach an agreement, bring focus to commonalities. Sharing examples of times in which you agree with the other person can help them see your point of view better. Sharing also demonstrates your willingness to seek out common ground and build a relationship around those trust elements with the other person.
For managers in leadership positions, there are often instances when you’re expected to mediate work conflict. You may need to guide the conversation, but instead of joining in or taking sides, remember that you’re there to help your employees work out their problems.
If emotions run high, you’ll need to redirect the conversation, so your employees return to the problem at hand. If you’re asked to give advice on next steps for remedy or solutions that impact future issues, highlight the positive aspects of the process and suggest actions they take going forward.
Stay Open to Forgiveness
Every conflict needs a clear resolution that acknowledges hurt feelings and finds a solution that begins to mend them. Agreeing solely for the sake of appearances can lead to tension that deepens over time, resulting in any progress being undone.
The simple solution is to genuinely apologize and tell the other person you’re truly sorry for any ill words or actions. You’ll also need to forgive the other person and accept their apology wholeheartedly.
Why is Managing Conflict Important in the Workplace?
Even after a conflict is resolved, the issue has the potential to be a teaching or learning opportunity for all employees within your organization. Often when there is disagreement, inherent potential for growth, development and change is created.
When conflict is managed properly, divergent positions can stimulate innovation, build stronger relationships, and establish an environment of respect. At its core, conflict brings an awareness of existing problems and provides a reason for finding a better way forward.
Human Resource Services with Paypro
At Paypro, our team has seen it all. With over 27 years of experience in human resource management solutions, we want to sit with you, understand your business, and come up with custom integrations and automations that will help your business. Our top priority is to help you resolve your issues, automate your services, and provide a safe and successful environment for your employees.
About The Author
Ingrid is the Content Marketing Manager at Paypro, managing both inbound and outbound marketing initiatives for the company. She has 15+ years’ of extensive marketing communications experience, leveraging brand awareness and strategic partnerships to increase sales revenue for a diverse group of B2B brands.