When you trained for your leadership role, you likely focused on the needs of the business and the industry skills that previously brought you success. Developing the emotional or people skills that enhance leadership efficacy may not have been at the top of your priorities when demonstrating how you can make measurable change for the business. Yet these skills are important to have in managerial roles because they can help de-escalate the kinds of disagreements that can thwart business as usual and sometimes create costly solutions in the future. Conflict in the workplace should be handled swiftly and effectively every time, but if you find yourself struggling with where to start, you’ve come to the right place.
How Conflict in the Workplace Should be Handled
Dealing with conflict at work as a manager is stressful but doing so effectively can make other parts of the job less stressful in the end. Conflict in the workplace should be handled by someone who can decrease intensity and facilitate a collaborative pursuit of solutions among all team members. Here are some skills you might not have necessarily thought about that you can develop to support this pursuit:
Organizational conflict thrives on emotional dysregulation. When people have big reactions that are 100% emotion and 0% rational thinking, conflict escalates, leading to bigger relational issues, more long-lasting interruptions, and sometimes irreversible harm on employee morale. Effective mediation between two employees can reduce these side effects but it requires the presence of someone who won’t add to the dysregulation. While you may feel you’re on the outside of the conflict as the manager, you still may find yourself having emotional reactions stemming from stress, your discomfort confronting this difficult situation, and any personal preferences you may have toward the employees involved. Getting a handle on your own emotions is the first place to start.
If you’re familiar with common causes of conflict at work, you may know that company culture plays a role in how conflict begins. With that in mind, one thing you can consider when cultivating a work environment as a leader is to encourage disagreements as a positive measure of growth and innovation rather than something that must be avoided. Train your employees to use disagreements effectively, managing their own emotions and allowing the disagreement to spark constructive discord and not a battle to be right.
Avoid Discussing Conflict Via Email
While we can all agree there are many meetings that could have been emails, conversations around conflict aren’t usually included. It may be tempting to avoid face-to-face conversations around tense topics like these, but conflict in the workplace should be handled in person so nothing gets lost or misinterpreted in text. Workplace conflict training can help soften growth edges around communication so that face-to-face interactions feel less stressful and intentions can be exchanged clearly.
Regardless of your leadership style, conflict in the workplace should be handled swiftly and collaboratively. But if you’re struggling with the skills and resources to handle this effectively, get support from neutral and experienced professionals who can diffuse rather than ignite the tension at work. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.