Conflicts in the workplace limit teamwork which leads to a reduction in productivity, output and potentially revenue and profit. In some cases, continued conflicts have led to the dissolution of some organizations. Don’t be one of these organizations. Conflict management is extremely important so you must have practical strategies in place. Here are a few.
Conflict management starts with proper communication. Many conflicts within organizations are the result of improper information handling. When there is no proper communication channel, information will get skewed and not properly relayed. Once rumors start spreading, trust in your organization will quickly erode, and conflicts will rise. Always send clear messages, especially when rumors are starting to spread. Keep an open door policy as well. Employees should feel that they can come and ask questions any time. You may also want to consider a newsletter. This way you can communicate the same clear message across the organization.
Taking too much time to resolve conflicts will escalate the situation. Conflicts should be addressed quickly but ONLY when the root cause has been properly investigated. Putting a band-aid on the problem will only make it worse in the long-run. An effective way to get to the bottom of conflicts and handle them in a timely fashion is to hold regularly scheduled meetings where employees can express their concerns. Doing so will allow you to brainstorm, as well as discover other issues that may be festering. You can also hold emergency meetings outside scheduled times if the conflict warrants it.
Effective listening plays a very big role in conflict management. Completely understand the issues on all sides before you jump to conclusions. Listen carefully and repeat the situation back to the parties involved so that they feel as though you are grasping the situation. Not doing this can easily make it seem you are taking sides. Do not take sides. Set your biases aside and listen with an open mind, no matter how clear-cut the cause of the conflict may seem.
For a well oiled, productive organization, employees must feel like they are your most important asset, because they ARE your most important asset. Employees should be able to take part in some decision-making processes especially when it comes to conflicts that they have to deal with. They should have some influence on solutions that are implemented. Seek their suggestions and input when considering your way forward. Some great ways to do this is to have an anonymous suggestion box, hold town halls, and have an open door policy, which I mentioned before.
Conflict management should be a top priority in your organization. Implement an effective communication channel, address concerns immediately, listen patiently and openly, and make employees part of the solution.
How do you address conflict in your organization?