Tips For Managing Conflict In the Workplace

15 January, 2016

conflict in the workplaceNo matter how hard you try to create a positive work atmosphere, conflict in some form is inevitable. Whether it’s between a manager and employee, between co-workers, or worse yet, between an employee and a customer — people can squabble when the pressure is on. But, not all conflict has to be negative.

If you anticipate conflict and accept it as a natural growth process of your business, you can recognize it as a positive. Treat the conflict as a learning experience and try to identify the root of the issue. Once you do that, work toward killing the root cause so the issue doesn’t continue to grow. This may give business owners the opportunity to implement changes they’ve wanted to for years. It can unclog lines of communication, which can spur innovative thinking and new ideas.

With workplace conflict,, you have to establish processes that give employees a forum to share grievances. This gives them confidence that they will be heard in a timely fashion, and with a clear plan of action to address the issue. Openly handling conflict can help prevent resentment and bitterness amongst employees.

As you peel back the conflict onion, and you get closer to the real root of the issue, remember that each layer has “surface issues” and addressing those may only extend the time needed to address the true cause of the conflict. The seed of the issue may go back years, but once it’s found, you need to work in the present to resolve any past issues, and maybe even give the employee goals to strive for in the coming months. Note: Focus on the problem and not the individual.

You can act as the mediator between the two parties, and you want to keep the lines of communication open when issues arise. Facilitate an open, honest discussion in a safe and secure area that lends itself to protected communication. Your ultimate goal is for the conflict to be resolved by the parties involved.

As a business owner or manager, take the information provided from all parties into review, and decide on a resolution when others can’t. Don’t be wishy-washy, set your decision in stone and move on. You may never get 100% approval for some of your decisions, but at least your team will know where you stand and will act accordingly the next time a conflict arises.


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