Australians spend a lot of time at work.
In Western Australia alone, the average full-time worker spends 41.1 hours a week at work. Moreover, each workplace is full of different personalities, opinions, and working styles. As a result, conflict becomes inevitable.
Unfortunately, many business leaders are not equipped with the skills to deal with conflict. Without effective conflict resolution strategies, your workplace could be in big trouble.
The worst thing you can do as a leader is avoid dealing with conflict. Workplace wars can result in high turnover, absenteeism, and demotivated employees. To decrease the impacts of conflict on your team, tensions must be addressed.
Conflict in the Workplace
According to research, 30% of a manager’s time is spent dealing with workplace conflict. The biggest causes are:
- Breached agreements
- Clashes in personality and managing styles
- Conflicting values
- A lack of information
- Organisational problems
- Mental illnesses
- A lack of resources
- Poor work/life balance
Conflict Management Benefits
- Positive change leads to a successful business. When conflict is dealt with, positive change and stronger team relationships form.
- Conflict resolution encourages new insights. Team members learn to see different perspectives and learn new ways of dealing with situations.
- Conflict management leads to goal achievement. Personal and business goals are more achievable when conflict is managed and help staff feel a greater sense of success.
- Effective conflict resolution strategies get staff thinking in terms of “us” verses “me”, which increases commitment to the resolution process.
Conflict Resolution Strategies
Offer Early Intervention
- Pay attention to the culture of your workplace for conflict indicators. For example, low productivity and morale.
- Consider improving feedback processes to detect and reduce conflict.
- Early intervention prevents the situation from escalating which is an essential component of conflict resolution.
Recognise Different Fairness Perceptions
- Both parties are likely to be certain that they are right. Consider that a fair resolution may be different based on different perceptions.
- Involve a third party, mediator, or expert to offer an unbiased perspective on ‘the facts’.
- By focusing on the facts, you shift away from opinions on fairness towards a bigger picture.
Look for Deeper Issues
- Identify the core issue. For example, financial disputes often involve deeper causes of conflict. These may include feeling disrespected or under-appreciated at work.
- Listen closely to concerns and find creative ways to address them. For example, if pay cannot be increased, offer other incentives that may decrease financial pressures on staff.
- This conflict resolution strategy is important for strengthening relationships. Moreover, it helps staff feel valued and supported in their roles.
- Additionally, this helps to prevent future conflict.
Build a Stronger Culture
Work cultures that nurture frequent and healthy feedback are naturally stronger.
- Lead by example.
- Implement an open-door policy.
- Make it clear that discrimination is unacceptable.
- Be approachable.
- Take your staff seriously.
- Receive feedback with an open mind and appreciation. Use it to create growth.
- Consider conflict management training.
Get Comfortable with Uncomfortable Conversations
- It is important to have face-to-face interactions.
- Avoid emails. They create a lack of real-time awareness of the facts.
- Give your undivided attention to conflict.
Prevention Beats Cure
In order to prevent conflicts, rather than fixing them when they arise, leaders should determine core issues. As a result, you can increases workplace productivity. retain top performers, and manage potential risks.
- Do you have protections in place to reduce tension?
- Do your policies consider how to manage conflict?
- We recommend providing training to staff and management on how to communicate constructively.
- Furthermore, leaders should invest in leadership development.
- An emotional intelligence course is a great starting point to preventing conflict in the workplace.
Additionally, we have also included a free tool to better approach conflict in your workplace. Download it here.