Dealing with Workplace Conflict

Workplace conflict is a inevitable, and it is the responsibility of competent leadership to understand where conflict in the workplace starts, and how to effectively deal with it. Those who simply stick their head in the same and hope the problem solves itself are destined to be disappointed. Having conflict resolution structure in place will help to head off the problems as they begin, and keep them from growing out of control and dampening employee morale and productivity.

Tips to Handle Workplace Conflict

Define Acceptable Behavior. What one individual feels is appropriate behavior and what another person feels is appropriate may be two very different things. For instance, some people feel justified in losing their temper and lashing out at others because they were angry and others deserve it. Creating an environment that values acceptable behavior, encourages collaboration and support, team building, and open communication can help ensure that conflict is avoided or dealt with quickly. Clearly defined responsibilities among the team can also help avoid workplace conflict.

Deal With Conflict Immediately. You can’t always prevent conflict, but you can stop it early on and keep it from causing long term issues among the staff. When workplace conflict arises, being able to address it, intervening proactively, and help each side understand what the expectations are can help it from becoming a serious problem.

Pick Your Battles Carefully. Dealing with workplace conflict doesn’t automatically mean that each and every instance of conflict needs to be handled personally by  leadership. On the contrary, many times employees need to be counseled or understood, and allowed to work through the issues themselves. This can be a growth opportunity for those involved and allow them to understand the mechanisms that caused the conflict in the first place, and thereby avoid them in the future.

Understanding that Conflict Can be an Opportunity. Workplace conflict is something that is unavoidable, but by looking at it as the opportunity for educational and personal growth, it can become something manageable. Smart leadership looks for the opportunities even when others aren’t able to see them. Look beyond the conflict and see what opportunities lie there.

Conflict Resolution is Always Possible

As long as there is a genuine desire to end the conflict, it can be done. Parties on both sides of the issue need to be able to communicate openly with others, accept other viewpoints, and work to find forgiveness, empathy, and common ground. In an organization that supports team work, this can be accomplished faster and more effectively.