Workplace Conflict – Strategy
A quick glance at world news shows tensions are high across the globe. This includes recent clashes between Iranian and US governments, with the US an Iran appearing to be on the brink of war.
Conflict, a part of life…..
The fact is, sadly, conflict is part of life. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking international affairs, or a few friends on a weekend camping trip, conflict can arise at any time. There are simply too many ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and tolerance levels out there for harmony to be everlasting.
As it relates to workplace conflict, there are some solid approaches that can help prevent conflict and increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome when it does happen.
Two critical things we can do:
Maintain written company values and policies, and communicate them:
Printed company values and policies make it clear to everyone as to what kind of conduct is okay, and what is not; they encourage positive behaviors, and discourage negative ones. With guidelines are in place, addressing non-conformance and unraveling right and wrong is a simple process.
Consistently exhibit, and promote positive interactions
Want the business edge? Stop conflict it before it starts by creating a mutually respectful workplace. Teach your people that treating one another with respect is not an optional component. Start by ensuring management is setting the tone. Leadership should set the standard, and from that vantage point, they’re able to effectively promote and uphold a culture of respect.
When it happens….
Address it head-on
Conflict is going to happen, and don’t shy away from it when it does. Tackle the issues fairly, calmly, and swiftly, without getting emotionally involved. The sooner there is clear, definitive action, the better. Allowing issues to go unresolved, or people to wallow in anger and resentment is a recipe for disaster. Address it.
Dig in and find out what’s really going on
You can’t effectively resolve a problem you know little to nothing about. Take the time to discuss things, talk to witnesses, and listen to both parties. By doing so, you can get to the true heart of the matter. That beats just scraping the surface of what, on first glimpse, appears to be a simple adverse exchange. Get connected, and interested, and your team will be better for it. Get to the root cause. The few minutes of extra time spent is likely time saved on having to revisit the same type of situation a little further down the road.
Set a precedent
Conflict can be an opportunity for growth, and it’s a manager’s job to make things turn out that way. Present fair, unbiased resolutions, and take whatever disciplinary actions are required. Rest assured, the other workers are watching, and will learn from your actions. Be fair and firm, and in the end, make sure your response communicates to all that business is business.
As they say, “firm, fair, and consistent” rules the day. People work hard, and a manager’s walk is one of the greatest contributors to retention, and job satisfaction. Conflict is just another one of those challenges a manager can become proficient and effective in handling. Be your best!
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