Knowing when and how to use conflict resolution techniques is an important skill for any manager.
It’s a fact of life that conflict happens in both our personal and professional lives. Conflict doesn‘t phase some people; in fact they welcome a little drama into their life. Other people do anything to avoid conflict. If you’re a manager, then you will need to deal with these situations many times throughout your career. It’s the way you handle workplace conflict that will determine the outcome and future behaviour of your employees.
Here are five proven techniques for handling workplace conflict:
#1 Look Beyond the Incident
Some managers make the mistake of only seeing a single incident as the problem. Ask the employees involved when they first felt tension between the two parties. Find out if there have been other incidents. You may uncover a bigger issue that needs addressing. It also lets your employees know you want to talk to them on a deeper level than simply reprimanding them for the specific incident in question.
#2 Make it a Learning Experience for Employees
Rather than having a disciplinary discussion, turn it into a coaching opportunity. Make an employee aware that you want to help them handle the situation better next time. By talking about their triggers and changes they can make to their mindset, it keeps the employee on side and helps build trust.
Problem identification is not helpful, but assistance to find solutions is. By assisting staff to develop skills and solutions with constructive suggestions and tips for managing future conflict, you hopefully won’t have to deal with this employee on conflict again.
#3 Understand Everyone is Different
The workplace is a melting pot of different backgrounds, ages, personalities and ideals. As a manager, it’s important to understand that everyone is different. Recognise that everyone has something unique to offer the team and organisation. Personality influences a worker’s attitudes, behavior and performance.
Get to know your staff so you can pre-empt how they will react to situations. One employee may be very similar to you while another employee is the complete opposite which can cause team conflicts. Be conscious not to side with the employee that’s most like you by default.
#4 Confront the Tension Head-On
If you are someone who avoids conflict, keep that trait for home not work. When tension is left to fester, it becomes a bigger problem. As time goes on, people become more emotional and invested so it makes your job far more difficult to handle. If you think there is some tension, act on it and don’t wait until it boils over.
Unresolved conflict results in loss of productivity, poor creativity, collaboration and co-operation within the organisation. Good workers will leave an organisation in search of a workplace that has less conflict and drama.
Your staff will respect you more if you act fast rather than hold back on a problem.
#5 View Conflict as an Opportunity
It sounds like something a true optimist would say but conflict in the workplace can offer valuable opportunities.
Dealing with conflict allows you to get to know someone on a different level. Small conflict is often a result of misunderstanding and incorrect assumptions. Further discussion can clear these up and allow all parties an insight into how others tick. After the conflict resolves, the relationship may be stronger than it previously was.
Think of conflict resolution as an opportunity to improve your skills as a manager. Every new experience increases your leadership maturity and helps with future scenarios.
If you have one or more managers in your organisation that needs help with conflict resolution, call PeopleSense by Altius on 1300 307 912 or (08) 9388 9000, or contact us online