Conflict Resolution is a regular occurrence at work that can either propel or disrupt the momentum for a leader, a team or the entire organization. Managing conflict can be a tricky thing – especially when you are not familiar with the larger ecosystem in which the particular individual or department creating the conflict operates, and how efforts to resolve conflict will reverberate throughout that ecosystem.
To help you create and sustain workplace momentum, employee engagement and healthy outcomes, here are a few ways to deal with conflict resolution at work:
Conflict Resolution Is a Six-Step Process
In order to resolve the conflict, the following six-step process is proposed:
- Define the problem—understand what the problem is;
- Gather data—collect data to support your problem definition;
- Analyse the data—analyse data to produce valuable information;
- Choose the best solution—amongst different options, choose the best solution;
- Implement the solution—the chosen solution must be implemented; and
- Continue to refine the solution.
Following Strategies can be implemented by leaders to address the conflict issue constructively at the workplace:
- Being Proactive and Preventing Conflict:
One of the most effective ways to handle conflict as a leader is to try and prevent it in the first place. Conflict in the workplace is inevitable, but good leadership practices can ensure that some of the most common instigators for employee tensions, disputes, and disagreements are avoided. Often, conflict prevention boils down to effective communication from leadership and a clearly defined organizational structure.
- Communicate Clearly about Business Goals and Strategy:
Make sure that employees have a clear understanding of business goals and strategy. When employees understand the scope of goals and strategy their company is pursuing, it lays to rest all other arguments that are outside the purview of the company’s direction. This reduces the potential of disagreement between employees and offers a common ground for everyone in the company to stand on.
- Define a Clear Organizational Structure with Open Communication Channels:
Ensure that employees understand their position, role, duties, and responsibilities in the company. You can cultivate this level of understanding by defining a clear organizational structure and hierarchy. This way employees do not overstep the boundary of their role in the company, but, at the same time, they know who to talk to about issues they may encounter. You should also make sure that communication channels between the different hierarchies of your organization are open and easily accessible for employees. Employees should feel comfortable discussing issues and/ or misunderstandings with their higher-ups. Discussions in the early stages can help prevent employee tensions and conflicts later.
- Model Conflict Resolution for Your Team
Leaders can’t be around to prevent or resolve all conflicts. So it’s important that you design and establish a positive organizational culture that promotes a healthy environment of communication, discussion, and transparency. Team members should be encouraged to address interpersonal tensions by speaking with higher-ups or by speaking directly with their colleagues. Employees should develop a positive attitude and not think of dealing with conflict as confrontation.
Reducing conflict will greatly improve team performance. Communicating with others and talking to them using their own needs, empathetic listening allows us to build trust quickly and co-operate better. It allows the leader to build a positive climate among the stakeholders, motivate the team members to perform better and reduce conflicts.