Conflict in the workplace has the potential to throw productivity and office morale into a tailspin. The mood and energy of employees has a direct relationship to output, collaboration, and customer relations. Avoiding conflict within an organization, then, should be a key priority for anyone in a leadership position.
Conflict Within an Organization
When experiencing conflict within an organization, you want to act fast to provide mediation solutions so that the dispute won’t impact other areas of the business or key business relationships. But the best way to manage employee relations and conflict resolution is to take preventative measures so disputes don’t break out in the first place. Here are some ideas to begin with:
Establish a Comfortable Work Culture
While humans are unpredictable and emotional beings, office culture does have a big influence on how effective communication and collaboration can be in the organization. Workplace culture sets the tone for how people show up; are employees stressed because management is always looking over their shoulder? Do they feel at ease because they feel trusted and well-equipped to do their job? Do they feel that management is open to hearing their feedback and responsive in terms of taking positive action in their favor? Creating an open and supportive culture where employees can turn to management and each other in times of struggle can decrease the chances of you experiencing conflict within an organization.
Look for Early Warning Signs
One helpful way to stay ahead of conflict is to look for early warning signs or vulnerabilities that might put your employees at higher risk for conflict to strike. If you know your team will be under some stress due to a tightly-timed deadline, you may want to stay vigilant for how that stress can impact interpersonal relationships, collaboration, and work styles. Learning how to handle staff conflict before it begins means recognizing what sparks it in the first place and knowing how you can help employees blow off some steam effectively, rather than at each other.
Get Creative About the Environment
When vulnerabilities or warning signs indicate there could be conflict within an organization, leadership can prevent dealing with disagreements in the workplace by giving employees a little extra support. This can mean ordering in lunch on a long day, providing exercise options for employees to blow off some steam, organizing a happy hour or some other team-building event, having an Employee Assistance Program which can provide therapeutic services to employees in tough circumstances. You might even try gamifying the work by using techniques found in video games, such as measurable progress (like reaching different levels), prize incentives and (light) competition to motivate your employees. We recommend you do further research on this technique to make it useful and avoid common pitfalls.
Remember Employees are Human
When mediating employee conflict or trying to prevent it altogether, it’s critical that leaders remember their employees are humans. This may sound silly, but in work environments where output is king, managers must remember that their employees are not machines. Humans have complex emotions and those emotions don’t shut off simply because a person is at work. By tending to this human side of your employees, you can prevent toxic expectations from forming and slowly turning up the heat on workplace stress.
Taking preventative measures for workplace conflict may feel like an unnecessary use of time and resources, but it can save you time and money in the long run by avoiding the negative impacts of team disputes. You don’t have to go it alone. Get support from the professionals and Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.