Conflict can be destructive to workplace productivity and a source of unhappy employees. A few simple steps can help managers and HR staff decipher where conflicts are coming from and create a healthier work environment.
Conflict is a clash between individuals arising from a difference in thought process, attitudes, understanding, requirements and even perceptions. It may result in a breakdown of communication, hurtful and aggressive behaviours as well as resentment and anger. Conflict can also lead to violence and even war.
The underlying cause of conflicts at the workplace is often a misalignment between individual and organizational goals and objectives. These conflicts can be due to a number of reasons including personality differences, workplace cultures, differing management styles and poor communication. The more these issues are allowed to persist, the more difficult it becomes for employees to get along and work productively.
When a clash of ideas, values and beliefs occurs, it’s important to try and see things from another person’s point of view. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them, but rather that you understand where they are coming from and their reasons for thinking the way they do. This can be a difficult step, especially when the individual is close to you, but it’s an important one.
Taking the time to talk with people on all sides of a dispute is the best way to defuse conflict and find a solution that works for everyone. It is important to remain calm and professional and not allow personal feelings to influence the conversation. It’s also important to avoid blaming or putting the other person on the defensive.
While it’s normal for people to disagree from time to time, if disagreements become too frequent or escalate, it may be worth seeking the advice of an outside party. Many organizations and institutions have ombudspersons who are trained in dealing with these situations. In addition, a trusted colleague or mentor may be able to provide helpful feedback and advice.
Another option is to have a face-to-face meeting in which all points of conflict can be discussed. This should be done in a neutral location that isn’t associated with either the employer or the employee and with ample time provided for each individual to speak their mind. Be sure to listen actively and respectfully and take notes to ensure that you’ve understood all sides of the story.
Finally, if all efforts to resolve the conflict fail, it may be necessary to seek out a mediator who can facilitate a meeting or mediation session between the individuals involved in the dispute. A mediator is an impartial person who can help the two parties in a conflict to work through their differences and come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Mediation can be a very effective tool for managing workplace conflict. It allows for a more open and honest discussion that can ultimately lead to better working relationships and happier employees. It can also prevent costly litigation and minimize damage to a company’s reputation.