Poorly managed conflict among employees can lead to irreparable consequences. In the US alone, conflict costs employers around $359 billion in paid hours every year. This is why leaders should be prioritizing conflict management.
Managing conflict in the workplace may be one of the toughest challenges of being a leader. However, it is also a skill – and skills can be honed. While knowing the basics of effective conflict management provides a solid foundation, advanced solutions can give you more possibilities.
Different situations demand different actions. Learning about new conflict management methods can help you pick just the right approach whenever an alarming situation arises. Moreover, advanced techniques can achieve something even better – minimize the chance of conflict.
In the following, you will learn about advanced tips for leaders on properly managing employee conflict.
"Prevention is better than cure" is an old saying attributed to the Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus. Leaders can adopt this philosophy within their conflict management strategy. Instead of settling for the role of a mediator, you can work proactively towards preventing the conflict. The solution to minimizing conflict lies in conflict resolution training.
A conflict resolution report by CPP, "Global Human Capital Report," addressed the effectiveness of conflict resolution training, among else. The results showed some favorable outcomes:
Teaching employees how to approach disagreements will minimize conflicts and inspire a more positive work culture.
Despite the strong desire to always surface a solution, sometimes you must admit that there isn't one. Don't keep this confession to yourself, but teach employees when they need to agree to disagree. In some cases, conflict is provoked by tangible problems. The solution is usually concrete as well, with clear resolutions and potential consequences. However, what happens when different opinions cause a heated discussion? Bear in mind that opinions are not facts. They are assumptions or personal beliefs. When the argument is based on subjective opinions that can't be classified as right or wrong, it is time for a new approach.
That new approach is teaching employees that people are allowed to disagree. In some instances, when the conflict isn't fact-based or especially work-based, different opinions should be respected. You can allow employees to express their thoughts respectfully. But if the argument has no clear resolution in sight, they must accept that people are free to have personal beliefs that don't align with others' norms.
Creating rules for managing disagreements typically isn't the company's priority. Leaders, on the other hand, do find conflict management at the top of their priorities list. Therefore, it is up to you to set internal conflict-related rules for your employees. Write down some key codes of conduct for effective communication and conflict management. The advantage of making your own rules is that you can base them on your experiences and your team's behaviors.
The rules can include:
While the above-mentioned "rules" may seem implied, it will be harder for employees to ignore them when you present them in the written form.
You can print out your "enhanced communication for a happy workplace nation" rules and put them up on a board. This will be a consistent reminder of what a respectful relationship between colleagues resembles.
If you want to get creative with the rules but you don't know-how, you can hire a writing service to help you out. Academic services tend to be an affordable option, and you can check out the PapersOwl review to assess whether they can be the right fit. Adding a little originality or humor while writing the rules can light up the mood among team members.
Conflict can't be avoided entirely in the workplace. Disagreements are a part of human nature. However, with a suitable approach, leaders can keep the arguments within respectful and appropriate discussion lines.
With these different methods, you can not only resolve conflict, but you can prevent it. Minimizing conflict will provide you with more time and energy for other relevant responsibilities.