Managing conflict among employees may feel like a distraction; some meaningless hiccup in an otherwise productive week that’s about to throw your productivity off course. But the truth is, conflict can be a growing edge for your team and yourself as a leader, and there’s a lot to learn that can turn something so daunting into an opportunity for growth.
Conflict Among Employees
Conflict among employees can have big impacts on workplace productivity, customer experience, and team morale. Knowing how to resolve disagreements in the workplace is a must for any manager, but the skills don’t always come easily. Here are 5 practical tips for managers facing conflict among employees:
1. Establish Communication Framework
When managing conflict among employees, the easiest place to start is before it even begins. This means that having a framework already in place for how to deal with conflict will provide skills and tools to your employees to help deescalate disagreements before they become high octane conflicts.
2. Don’t Take Sides
Employee conflicts in the workplace are tough enough to manage without the hidden biases of managers and HR making things worse. Make sure you’re not letting personal or professional interests pull you to align with one side or the other. Any favoritism that may be interpreted by a conflicting party may override any efforts you make toward peace.
3. Reward Communication
Let the mediation process be about your employees learning to effectively assert themselves. This may take some coaching on your part, but the more your employees feel empowered to speak up in a professional manner, the more they may be able to avoid future conflict. Maintaining a company culture that rewards open communication with validation and support can also help diffuse some of the tension that may have served as conflict kindling.
4. Model Effective Behavior
Conflict resolution skills at work typically come down to the need for collaboration. If you can walk your own talk and show your employees what it looks like to negotiate and compromise professionally, you can help provide them with some tools that may have otherwise been lacking. Once you and your team nail down the basics of communication, you can start to implement creative conflict resolution practices that can take team building to a whole new level.
5. Always Remember the Human Factor
One of the reasons it can be so challenging to manage conflict among employees is because of the emotional component in which most managers don’t have the best training. In other words, while the argument may be about deadlines, workload, or other solvable issues, the underlying cause of the conflict may be overwhelming emotions. Perhaps your employees feel underappreciated, resentful, tired, powerless, or just plain stressed. Tending to these emotions will not only help your employees recognize them and take ownership of them, but it will also help diffuse some tension and support a collaborative resolution.
Get ahead of imminent conflict among employees by training yourself and your staff on how to resolve disagreements in the workplace. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.