9 Practical Tips for Workplace Conflict Management

June 27, 2016 by  

Organizational conflicts arise when there is disharmony between employees and managers or between managers and outside forces. People espouse differing ideologies and perceptions. They react to situations in different ways depending on their own life experiences. These differences can cause emotional clashes and miscommunications which result in conflict, disappointment, resentment, confusion, and complaining. In some cases, differing perspectives, if handled respectfully, can provide some positive outcomes; such as developing new ideas for resolution, or learning more about another’s point of view.  Sadly, more often it has a negative impact on the welfare of the organization, especially if it is not handled respectfully and honestly.

In most organizations, it is the managerial staff (or the HR staff), who are responsible for handling conflicts and they need to have the tools to be able to find creative solutions for these difficult issues.

 

Here are 9 key factors that managers should keep in mind if they are to successfully resolve a conflicts.

 

  1. Do not ignore conflict: Conflict will not usually go away by itself so effective managers should intervene whenever a conflict is evident between members of the team. An unresolved conflict can trigger more issues and can also affect productivity and efficiency.

 

  1. Meet with concerned people together: If the “combatants” are met with separately, this may lead to a polarizing effect among the team members. Both parties will likely stick to their own point of view so no solution can be reached. Instead, the manager should use his/her persuasive skills to bring both parties together, each can state their perspective and once they have actively listened to each other, it will be easier to figure out how to respectfully and fairly resolve the issue.

 

  1. Give both parties the opportunity to share their concerns: The effective manager will employ his/her leadership skills to engage both parties in conversation, allow them each to share their perspectives and then suggest specific actions that can be taken, which are acceptable to both. The effective manager should explore various options to achieve a win-win outcome for everyone.

 

  1. Clear Communication of the message will help to avoid misunderstanding: Communication barriers between employees and employers can create a wide gap in their understanding of situations and expectations. If effective, clear, and honest communication is not used, mistrust can develop among the employees causing disengagement and turnover. Incorrect information also evokes fear in the minds of employees so rumors, ambiguity, and misinformation needs to be addressed and corrected as soon as possible.

 

  1. Be proactive when circumstances dictate the need: Managers must be able to identify potential conflict and take action to ensure that the identified issues are diffused as soon as possible. With sound reasoning ability, the manager should try to influence both the parties to find ways to agree on a solution. The manager should create an environment where in the employees have trust that their interests and concerned are acknowledged and addressed.

 

  1. Employees should be Accountable: The effective manager should delegate work amongst the team members with a clear understanding of the time line allowed, as well as the roles and responsibilities that each employee is expected to fulfill. When employees know how they fit into the “big picture” they are more likely to want to fulfill their duties to the best of their abilities….as win-win for everyone!

 

  1. Build Respectful relationships with employees: Again, when employees are aware of their roles and responsibilities they will feel more connected to the organization. It is important for the manager to keep the enthusiasm of the team at a high level so that the happiness factor will also be high, ensuring efficient, productive and creative outcomes. .

 

  1. Conduct Results –Oriented meetings with employees: Conducting meetings is an art which increases the transparency of organizational issues. The effective manager discusses plans for the upcoming period and shares a status report which illustrates the accomplishments achieved so far. This gives a clear picture to the employees of how they are doing and collaborative opportunities for improvement, if necessary, can be explored.

 

  1. Provide an employee “suggestion box”: This is a powerful means in which the manager can collect “honest” feedback from the team. This can be especially helpful in resolving conflict situations, improving work conditions, and delegating tasks.

 

Conflict and negotiation certainly tend to go hand in hand. With the growing complexity and pressures of today’s work environment, small issues pertaining to employee satisfaction can often go unnoticed by the top management. If these concerns are ignored for a long period of time, it may take the shape of conflict, disengagement, or even turnover. Therefore, the onus is on the manager to diffuse potential conflict-causing situations as soon as possible in order to keep the work environment happy, productive, efficient, and creative.

 

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