Reducing conflict in the workplace
Monday, April 25, 2016
The most important area in any business is communication. If you do not have proper communication, then discussion on any topic becomes more difficult.
However, disagreements are an inevitable part of the working environment. If they go unresolved, they can disrupt and cause irreparable damage to the organization.
A recent report by Business Management Daily entitled "Workplace Conflict Resolution" describes the best practices on resolving conflict resolution in the workplace. This article will highlight some the more important practices this report espouses.
One of these areas contains tips for managers, and here are three of the best:
Let people tell their story: The report cites, "When people are deeply upset about something, they need to get their story out. This is a basic principle of mediation, and one that's important to remember." Letting people speak their minds helps clear the air. In can also reveal other facts that may not have been readily noticed, and help in a solution.
Bring a reality check to the table: The report indicates, "Often in a conflict, the parties are so focused on minutiae that they lose sight of the big picture and its implications. As the mediator, you need to bring people back to reality by wrenching their attention away from the grain of sand and having them focus on the whole beach. Doing so may help resolution arrive at a startling speed."
Realize that every conflict can’t be solved: This report realizes, "What if you've tried to help two warring factions find a fair solution, but you just can't reach that elusive goal? That can happen — and often does. Not every negotiation will have a win/win outcome. Not everyone can live together in harmony. There are times when you just have to accept that both parties will leave the table equally unhappy. Isolate the participants if possible, and just move on."
Besides individual conflicts, teams can also be subjected to these clashes. Since teams are working on varied projects as well as individualized assignments, communication can sometimes become impossible and disrupt an organization's workflow. There are five techniques suggested in the report.
Demand a truce: When discussions becomes too heated, as a leader you may have to step and ask each party to try to find a resolution. This gives each person time to take a breather, and time to reflect on a solution.
Reduce interaction: This gives the employees time to "cool off." If they have to work with each other on a continuous basis, then as the leader suggest they meet less frequently. Or, if this becomes too difficult, have a third party intervene.
Mediate: The report reiterates, "Meet with the parties together. (If the issue is explosive, it might be better to meet with each one alone to gather facts.) Find out what the problem is, thrash it out and work together to find a solution. Talking it out can relieve pressure and often defuse the situation."
Keep emotions in check: This is probably the most difficult of the techniques. People will naturally get all charged up about a situation. As the leader, you have the responsibility to make sure emotions are left out, and clearheadedness prevails. As hard as this is, it is in the best interest of all to have each employee conduct themselves professionally.
Create common goals: The leader must have everyone see the big picture. The report advises, "By reiterating the company's goals and demonstrating how both employees are vital to the company's success, you might temporarily squelch their anger and create harmony — or at least coexistence. Then, everyone will be able to function effectively on the job."
Finally, there are differences between types of conflict and styles of communication within an organization. Not every conflict is an actual battle that must be fought at all costs.
There may be cultural differences between individuals, and just being aware can make all the difference in the world. Understanding these differences will not make conflict go away. However, with better understanding, the organization can strive for better conflict resolution and a more productive workplace.
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