Leadership is a full-contact sport and those who play it need to learn how to endure and deal with workplace conflict. If you can’t address workplace conflict in a healthy, productive fashion, you shouldn’t be in a leadership role. As a leader, you shouldn’t avoid workplace conflict but embrace it as a part of your position. Recognising workplace conflict and bringing a swift resolution will serve you as a leader. It may even strengthen your team as well as their trust in you.
If you choose to avoid workplace conflict in your role as a leader, it will eventually be your downfall.
Workplace conflict rarely resolves itself. It is more likely to fester, only to escalate if not dealt with proactively and appropriately. This unresolved conflict results in loss of productivity, lowering morale, stifling of creativity and shuts down cooperation and collaboration within the workplace.
Then behaviours such as resentment, withdrawal and factional infighting within the organisation become embedded in the workplace culture. Let’s face it, leaders who don’t deal with workplace conflict often watch their A talent walk out the door in search of a safer and healthier work environment.
Conflict in the workplace is bound to happen!
It would be abnormal having multiple people with different personalities in one area without some conflict. The root of most conflict within the workplace comes from either poor communication or the inability to control emotions.
So how do we effectively deal with workplace conflict as it inevitably arises?
Organisations need to have effective resolution processes to address the conflict. It isn’t enough to have the structure in place. You need to have active utilisation of the techniques, an understanding from all parties regarding conflict resolution benefits and an honest desire to resolve the matter.
Make sure there is an Established Definition of Acceptable Behaviour
Having clearly defined job descriptions with stated acceptable behaviour so that people know what is expected of them. There needs to be an articulated chain of command to allow for effective communication to avoid workplace conflicts. It is also essential to clearly and publicly make it know in meetings regularly what will and won’t be tolerated.
Actively Engage in Workplace Conflict Prevention
Seek out areas of potential conflict and proactively intervene to prevent inevitable disputes from even becoming an issue. The time you devote identifying and understanding natural tension will help you avoid unnecessary conflicts within the workplace.
Deal with Workplace Conflict Quickly and Decisively
You can’t always prevent conflicts, but if one does escalate, minimise its severity by dealing with it quickly and decisively. Clear and constructive communication is a way to find a mutually beneficial solution for all parties.
Understand the motivations
Find out what objectives they are trying to achieve and approach the conflict from taking action to help them achieve their goals and objectives. There will be fewer obstacles put in your way to resolve the dispute if you know what each party in the conflict is trying to achieve.
Being right isn’t the most important
The only real settlement of workplace conflict is when both sides find common ground and are satisfied with the outcome. Seeing one side as an opponent, rather than a collaborating comrade will make it impossible to find an agreeable resolution.
Resolve the Conflict in a Neutral Location
Productive communication can only happen when either party or side don’t feel they are disadvantaged. Make sure conflict resolution occurs in a neutral location where people can talk to each other without feeling unsafe or intimidated.
View Workplace Conflict as an Opportunity
Every conflict presents a learning opportunity for growth. Divergent positions addressed adequately can stimulate innovation and collaboration.
Great leaders utilise these opposing opinions for the businesses advantage and growth—by fostering mutual respect rather than pitting each other against one another and seeing things in black and white. Try to understand how each person communicates, their expectations, and how they can work together to find the best resolution that will benefit everyone.
Conflicts in the workplace will eventually happen, no matter how wonderful and inclusive your culture has become. It’s perfectly natural for people to disagree, miscommunicate or simply not get along with other personality types.
Promoting conflict prevention and when conflict does happen, dealing with it swiftly and fairly without favouritism, puts you and your employees in the best possible position to grow and move forward.