Workplace conflict is inevitable, especially with the multiple personalities and opinions that are within any working environment. Conflict can create a very unproductive workforce for everyone within the same environment as the conflict, let alone the people who are involved with the conflict. But there are many ways that organisations can help tackle workplace conflict that may develop within their work teams.
1. Listen to your Employees
One of the many factors that can cause conflict is the premise that employees feel like they aren’t listened to. It’s vital that you make it clear that you, as an employer, are available to discuss any issues with your employees. When, and if, an employee requests a meeting it’s best for you to listen first and talk second, this way they will feel more confident with you and feel they can discuss with you their issues. When you listen to an employee you can understand the issue more clearly and implement a resolution easier. But remember to make sure you get both sides of the story before implementing.
2. Create Culture
Although it can be entertaining, office gossip can be a vital part of increasing workplace conflict. Office gossip can just be like Chinese whispers, the stories are never as clear as what actually happened. As an employer, it is your duty of care that everyone feels comfortable within their working environment, but if there is gossip going around the office about certain people then those people will not feel confident, and this is where workplace conflict can arise. The parties involved with the gossip might eventually fall out and decide not to speak to each other which can create an unproductive atmosphere. Which is why you should discourage gossip within the office environment, you should have policies in place to stop gossiping, such as warnings.
Friendship is a brilliant way to avoid conflict, friends rarely argue. Implementing team building sessions throughout the year can help build friendships and trust between co-workers. During the team building sessions, co-workers understand that they are all trying to achieve the same goal within the session, which helps them to realise that it’s exactly the same at work. It can really help them engage creatively together to reach the end goal in an efficient way. However, team building doesn’t have to be the one and only solution to help encourage friendship, organising team social events, can help build friendships outside work.
Conflict can sometimes be a good thing for your organisation, especially if you use it is an educational lesson. Learning from previous conflicts can help you, as an employer, to understand and reduce the risk of a new conflict, and even stop the same conflict from reoccurring. Understanding where your organisation went wrong in the situation can help you make appropriate changes for any future issues that may arise within your teams. We’d also recommend trying out tools like psychometric analysis to deliver self-awareness sessions that can create greater awareness of oneself and their team members.
4. Leading Others
Solving workplace conflict will help your team to work better collectively, and develop together. By creating leaders within your business you can reduce conflict by motivating people to achieve common business and organisational goals.
5. Mediation Services
If you were too late to resolve a conflict before it escalated further, then you might need to invest in a mediation service, these services can be in-house or even through an external company. The good thing about a mediation service is that they are an impartial service to all parties involved, meaning that they can help all parties understand why there is conflict and how they can work together to create a resolution that will help them resolve the issue. Having a team that understands differences between colleagues is a major factor to help to reduce the risk of future conflict, as they will know how certain people think and approach their work.
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