Workplace conflict is something we naturally want to avoid, but you can turn that negative experience into a positive with the right approach.
Focus on clear communication.
Poor communication often leads to conflict in the workplace, but you can make something good out of it. When employees become frustrated due to unclear expectations, it allows you to gather feedback and find new and more effective ways to talk with employees. And once you get their input and use it to improve communication, they’ll feel as though you truly listen and everyone will grow as a team. Plus, from the HR side, understanding how employees prefer to deal with conflict and come to a resolution allows for more prompt resolution in the future. You can then pass this knowledge to your managers, who will then more readily spot conflict and know how to best communicate with the frustrated employees, promoting growth among them.
Channel the opportunities.
Conflict often arises in negotiations — it’s a natural occurrence when one or both sides feel they’re not getting what they want in some respect. It’s your chance to gather all the information surrounding the conflict, make sure they understand you, and listen carefully to all sides to find a resolution (notice how important communication is?). And in meetings, conflict can actually lead to a more productive session — just make sure you lay down ground rules about how to respond when disagreeing and ensuring that everyone gets a voice…this way you get different perspectives and can come to a team consensus.
When employees get to the point of conflict where they refuse to work together or hinder each other’s work, you have to deal with it as quickly and effectively as possible. In this case, avoid ignoring the problem hoping it will smooth itself out or taking the “wait-and-see” approach. Instead, proactively address it, stating that you believe there’s a problem that’s affecting productivity and share specific examples (generalizations will just have you spinning your wheels). Then see what you can do to make each side feel they’ve been treated equitably so nobody views himself as the “loser” in the situation. Resolving the conflict will improve productivity.
Embrace it as it comes.
Think of it this way: Conflict forces you to look at how you’re running your company and everyone involved in it. If you look at conflict as something to be avoided or swept under the rug, it will probably escalate. If you view conflict as a potentially needed nudge (or sledgehammer, depending on how great the issue) telling you that procedures and methods of communication need changing, you’ll come out stronger in the end.
For help dealing with conflict, visit PrideStaff.