Are these Conflict Management Mistakes that You Make?

March 21, 2017 by  

Some situations need to be argued out and fights can actually strengthen a relationship. Your organization will also face conflict. Anytime a group of people comes together, there will be some level of differing opinions. Therefore ways to resolve those conflicts need to be exercised in order to keep harmony in the workplace.
Diversity is essential to building a successful team, however, this also can contribute to the likelihood of facing conflict. Knowing how to deal with conflicting personalities, experiences, and working styles will help make you a better manager.

“Conflict isn’t just natural—it’s productive.” However, that happens only when people know how to handle it well. The trouble is that most managers are never taught how to manage conflict at work. They develop the skills to become an expert in their job, but they often lack the formal training in the people skills that is necessary in order for them to deal with tricky situations in the workplace. Instead, they are just expected to pick up those skills as they need them. This is not truly the best way to prepare a person for a managerial role.

Learn how to manage conflict by avoiding these common management mistakes:
1. Inaction
Ignoring team conflicts will not make them go away. Unfortunately, this is the method many managers choose for dealing with workplace conflict. This is such a popular choice that apparently 35 percent of managers would rather parachute jump than address a problem with a colleague. Even 8 percent would rather eat bugs. But inaction can sabotage your organization. If a problem goes unresolved, it will grow into resentment that can derail future projects even after the nature of the dispute becomes irrelevant. Inaction can lead to tense relationships between your employees.

2. Competition
Many people many avoid conflict out of fear. They do not want to deal with a conflict because they are afraid they might lose. Fear begins when managers view conflicts as “something they can’t control and are unlikely to win.” So, if you take the element of competition out of the conflict, you will be able to assess the situation from a calmer, more neutral viewpoint. If winning is your only goal, your conflict may never end. One should always put the goals of your company above your personal preferences. This means putting aside your pride and facing problems head on. Removing the element of competition will also help you to evaluate whether it is a personality or organizational issue that you must resolve.

3. Not listening
If you have made it past the step of inaction and taken competition out of the equation, you may still face another hurdle in your conflict resolution skills. Not listening is a common problem for managers to fall into when dealing with employee conflicts. Shutting down your employees before hearing them out can be just as ineffective as inaction. Apparently, “85 percent of what we know is learned through listening.” Therefore, being an active listener is essential to resolving conflicts in a healthy manner that will ultimately build a stronger foundation for the future. You want to do more than just solve the conflict; you also want to prevent future conflicts.

Dealing with conflicts at work comes down to an issue of respect. Effective managers value their employees, as they are the organization’s most valuable asset. When you avoid conflict, you are also indicating that their disagreements are not worthy of your time. Making conflict into a competition occurs when you let your pride get in the way of your work. And when you try to resolve conflicts simply from a position of authority, you can create greater animosity. Keep these common management mistakes in mind and you will help conflict become another tool of your organization’s success.

6 Common Outcomes of Worker Conflict & 6 Tips for Successful Resolution

August 17, 2016 by  

Once you are aware that employees are not getting along, you should be cognizant of the fact that there are 6 possible outcomes when trying to resolve any conflicts among co-workers. Once you are aware, you will be better able to deal with whichever one results from the situation.

Here are the 6 most common possibilities:
1. Both people work resolve their differences, rise above the issue, and mutually agree to move on.
2. Both people agree to disagree, get past the issue, and move on.
3. Both people say they have moved on, however, one or both secretly harbors continued ill will. As a result, the negativity continues less overtly and performance soon begins to decline.
4. One person “sucks it up” and acquiesces while the other seemingly “wins.” In this outcome, the conflict could continue so further strategies will need to be implemented.
5. The “wronged” party won’t budge and may need to be removed from the department and possibly let go. Unfortunately, some people are just unwilling to let an issue go and if this attitude is going to cause deeper issues within the organization, then they definitely need to leave.
6. The situation damages both workers and they both decide to leave.

You have likely encountered people in both your personal and professional life who always seem to be mired in drama and have a great propensity for dragging others into their issues. If you think: “Here we go again” regarding one of the employees involved in a conflict, then that’s probably a sign that this person needs to change their attitude or be terminated. You, of course must discuss this with them and offer them the opportunity to change how they deal with certain situations. However, if there is no change, and with some people that is going to likely be the case, then the only choice is to let them go.
Managers who delight in intra-departmental friction are setting themselves and their team up for the establishment of a very toxic work environment which will end up with high turnover, high absenteeism, and lowered performance by everyone. Unless you are a professional athlete, work is not a sport and employees should not be treated like pawns in a game. Friendly competition is one thing, but pitting one employee against another and hoping the competition will foster higher performance is just wishful thinking and often the opposite will be the result.

Some would argue that creative tension among co-workers can yield superior results due to the rivalry that is formed. While this might be true in a project, it can easily set up a permanent “us-versus-them” culture that could certainly devolve into a damaging conflict.
In addition, if you allow conflict to linger without addressing it, one of the workers, or both, or even an uninvolved third worker, could go above you to your superior or to the HR person, thus making an already uncomfortable situation much worse. The implications should be clear: “This was brought to your attention, and you either chose to ignore it (not a wise choice) or didn’t know how to deal with it (does not make you look competent). This could backfire on the two in conflict, but it could also damage your reputation and bring unwanted scrutiny on your team on how you manage them.

Here are 6 Tips for Resolving and Preventing Worker Conflict:
Each situation will, of course be different, however, here are some strategies to effectively deal with any worker conflicts and how they might avoid these sorts of situations in the future.

1. Meet with the workers who are in conflict to see if you can help to remedy the situation. Do this as quickly as possible so as to avoid letting it fester and spiral out of control.
2. Inform your superior of the situation so that he/she is not unprepared for or surprised by any disciplinary actions that may be necessary to be implemented presently or in the future.
3. Involve the HR manager, when necessary, possibly as an independent mediator, to put the conflicting employees on notice or probation, or finally, to begin transfer arrangements to another department or location.
4. Promote and foster a work environment of respect, tolerance, and civility within the organization.
5. Maintain open, honest, and clear communication with your employees. Freely share any information and updates about the company and your particular department in order to reduce and even eliminate any need for gossip and rumors.
6. Review the policies on the use of company email and social media sites. Realize that some disgruntled employees might post their dissatisfaction online either within or outside of the company. Review the company’s electronic media policies and clearly communicate them to all the employees.

If you employ the above approaches and appreciate the noted possible outcomes, you will likely be able to handle the conflict situations more effectively and ensure more positive outcomes. In this way you will have a far better chance of establishing and maintaining a positive, respectful, and supportive working environment for your team. This result will also promise more success for everyone!