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6 minute read

10 Essential Conflict Management Techniques for Workplace Success

Don’t let clashes in the workplace impact company culture and performance. Here are some tips for effective conflict management and resolution in the office.

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Conflict in the workplace is normal and happens more often than you may think. In the study titled “Workplace Conflict and How Businesses Can Harness it to Thrive”, 85% of employees have experienced conflict at work at some point during their employment.

Disagreements can and will happen in the workplace, especially with more employers actively encouraging employees to be more honest with one another. Such transparency can lead to a high-performance workplace, but it can also give rise to workplace clashes due to reasons ranging from interpersonal differences to organisational challenges. Thus, it is important to develop a solid conflict management and resolution plan to deal with issues that arise.

Without reliable conflict management strategies in place, major disagreements can distract your team members and lead to poor performance and even resignations. This guide can help you mitigate these situations better and maintain morale and productivity after a workplace dispute.

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1. Stay calm and objective

Whether or not you are directly involved, do not take sides. Doing so will only cause the conflict to worsen and turn others off from contributing to a solution. Be professional and let those involved talk freely without interruption from others. Remember to keep your own emotions in check – make sure not to draw conclusions and assign blame. Instead, focus on the objective of coming to a team consensus.

2. Identify the parties involved

You can’t address a conflict in the workplace without knowing the parties involved. Whether you were in the room or just heard rumours flying around the office, knowing which parties are implicated is the first step to resolving it. This ensures you’re addressing the issue directly and not hearsay.

3. Gather the facts

After discovering who’s involved and what the disagreement is about, delve deeper into the facts behind the conflict. This also means identifying and speaking to others who might have helpful information. This allows you to understand the full picture. Once the facts have been established, focus on understanding the nature of the conflict. Each party will have its own version of events, so arrange a time to have a candid conversation with each person, listening carefully and actively for points of agreement and disagreement. Avoid interrupting or pre-empting their response.

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4. Encourage open communication

Having a culture of open communication and feedback can be helpful in preventing and managing conflict. This allows the team to feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and concerns. Having clear communication can prevent future misunderstandings so establish channels for feedback. It also helps to create a shared vision that is conveyed to every person so that the team is on the same page. Conflict may still arise, but do not avoid it, as this will only suppress issues. Be available and authentic so the team feels safe to come to you.

5. Listen actively to the interests of each party

Before suggesting a resolution, it is important to understand each party’s interests and needs. The sharing can help you discover a middle ground to resolve the conflict. While it’s not always straightforward, having a detailed awareness of each party’s perspective can help shape your response.

6. Brainstorm options for a resolution

Now that you understand what happened, you can now generate options to resolve the issue. These solutions should consider the short- and long-term ramifications, not just for the parties involved but also for your wider workforce. Offer construction suggestions or involve the team in brainstorming suitable solutions for more effective conflict management.

Personality-based conflicts, where the issue boils down to differences in work styles, can often be handled by clearing the air and reinforcing the importance of respect. However, serious issues like harassment may require further mediation or workplace retraining.

7. Evaluate and implement solutions collaboratively

Assess the suitable solutions available and reach a consensus with everyone involved on the best solution to resolve the conflict. This requires active collaboration and contribution from each member. As such, it makes them feel responsible for the chosen solution and should lower the risk of future similar tensions arising.

8. Develop an action plan to implement the resolution

With the agreed-upon resolution, it’s now time to put together an action plan that benefits everyone, including the wider organisation. The plan should outline key responsibilities for each party to follow, ensuring the issue is finally cleared up. Remember, the team should also be aware of the bigger objectives of the team and organisation.

9. Follow up and provide support

Even if everyone agreed to the proposed solution together, things will not be resolved overnight. Conflict management can be an ongoing process, especially for more serious disagreements. Schedule regular follow-ups with each party in the coming weeks to discuss whether the resolution has helped and how. If it didn’t, come together to see what improvements can be made. Have an open-door policy so affected parties can come to you if tensions continue to manifest.

10. Identify opportunities for growth and learning

Workplace conflict can and will contain opportunities for growth in individuals and the team. This is because it sets the stage for improvement, and when handled properly, it can spark creativity and insights. A key strategy for conflict management is to view these issues as opportunities for growth and learning. Reflect and analyse the situation to identify lessons and strategies for handling such matters better in the future.

Conflicts at work may not be easy, but they can be managed efficiently. There are also many conflict management courses to arm yourself with the right tools should such situations happen. You can also consider incorporating conflict management and resolution techniques through team-building initiatives to equip your team.

 

Effective conflict management requires patience, empathy, and willingness to address underlying issues constructively. Handling conflict effectively can be that edge that moves the team to greater success.

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