Conflict is inevitable in the workplace but it doesn’t have to cut the organization down at its knees. Conflict management techniques in the workplace can help mitigate the impacts of conflict and get everyone back on track. It is in the best interest of most employees, especially leaders, to know how to resolve employee conflict. Knowing the specific types of conflict you might be facing can help turn those techniques into a more targeted approach, increasing efficacy and reducing the amount of time and energy spent on the issue.
Structural Conflict Management Techniques in the Workplace
Conflict management techniques in the workplace are varied and include effective communication skills, the ability to problem solve, and emotional regulation or self-soothing in order to be collaborative and clear-minded. But becoming more familiar with 3 key types of conflict can help sharpen those conflict management skills even more effectively.
Structural conflict means the root of the issue comes from a structure of the organization. This can include how teams are structured, lack of clarity over expectations, rewards, and consequences, and the impact of the organization’s hierarchy. If employees are feeling left out because the structure of the team is inherently exclusive, workplace culture allows for subtle discrimination, or employees don’t feel they have the tools and clarity they need to get the job done, conflict may ensue. Knowing this can (and should) have an impact on how to solve conflicts at work.
So how should you manage it? Addressing these issues from an interpersonal perspective may be helpful short-term, but if the root cause of the conflict is structural, that’s where the solution will have to come from. Get feedback, address organizational conflict, and cultivate an open workplace culture where communication is safe and effective.
Procedural conflict can be seen as an off-shoot of structural conflict in that the issue lies in the larger system, not just one or two people. This conflict can arise when employees don’t feel empowered enough to create impact without red tape or layers of procedures. Barriers to progress will create frustration among employees and will cultivate a culture that implies employees can’t be trusted without extensive checks and balances systems.
Which conflict management techniques in the workplace can help with procedural conflict? First some recognition that if you vetted and hired your staff, it’s because you saw something in them that created value and indicated competence. If training is needed to ensure certain policies are followed, go ahead and offer it. But ask for feedback and assess where expectations can favor trust and empowerment for your employees to make appropriate decisions.
Interpersonal conflict in the workplace is the one we tend to be more familiar with because we can also experience these issues in our personal relationships. This conflict can be caused by differing personality styles, opposing work ethics, or poor communication. Providing better conflict resolution tools to your employees is a great way to get a handle on this, which include personal development, communication skills, and de-escalation skills.
When interpersonal conflict is active, however, you’ll want to put some space between the two individuals involved, hear them both out fully, offer space to regulate activated emotions, and facilitate a mediation.
If learning about or implementing conflict management techniques in the workplace is challenging, reach out for support from neutral and experienced conflict resolution professionals who can provide insight and structure for positive change. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.