The word ‘conflict’, or even just the thought of conflict, can make people uncomfortable. The truth is, conflict is inherent in our everyday lives. Through the changes and growth that is routine to any company or organization misunderstandings and disagreements can occur. Thus, conflict is inevitable.
When it is framed in that manner it is easy to understand why so many people try to avoid conflict with every fiber of their being. Nobody looks forward to misunderstandings or disagreements. But the truth is, conflict is part of every relationship, even at work. Conflict is defined as mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands.
When two ideas clash, when the needs, drive, and wishes of two people don’t directly agree, conflict can present itself pretty quickly. This is why conflict resolution is so important regardless of what field we are working in. And, if conflicts arise, it is important for managers to know how to effectively address it.
Is conflict necessarily a negative thing?At a first glance, conflict is something we tend to avoid because we can tend to tie it towards negative experiences. Despite conflict having such a bad reputation, it proves to be very beneficial in the workplace. Conflict allows for the reconciliation of ideas, leading to an agreement that benefits the needs, desires, and wishes of both parties. In fact, conflict can even enhance relationships.
Conflict also provides opportunities for group unity and cooperation. Although others may think otherwise, conflict is necessary and cultivates creativity and communication. For conflict to have a positive impact in the workplace we must know how to address it properly.
Why is Conflict Resolution so Important?
Leaving conflict unresolved can be detrimental to workplace morale, productivity, and the company culture. Conflict resolution should never be taken lightly. If not resolved, it can breed a negative and tense environment for many in the organization, not just the individuals involved in the initial conflict. Unresolved conflict can lead to staff avoiding their duties and co-workers, this can result in high staff turnover, excessive use of sick days, and poor job performance. In more serious cases, conflicts unresolved for prolonged periods can even lead to legal problems.
Remember, conflict is inevitable – it’s a fact of life. No two people are the same, and when our different motivations, processes, and goals clash, conflicts arise. Conflict isn’t always something to fear, however, because out of conflict comes change. When resolved properly, conflicts can lead to better ideas, better understanding, and better working relationships. Through considerate conflict resolution in the workplace, companies and their employees can improve themselves.
How do we Effectively Address Conflict?
Conflicts are caused by a lack of communication and poor communication. Misunderstandings, closed-mindedness, apathy, and passive-aggressive behavior can all contribute to workplace conflicts.
One vital thing a manager must do when conflicts arise is to embrace them. Immediately step in, gain clarity, and don’t take sides. This ensures everyone will feel valued and make the issue easier to resolve. However, that’s the easy side of things. Managers face different types of conflicts within the workplace including disagreements over work issues that interfere with business productivity. But more than anything managers must help resolve personality clashes, the most common cause of conflict. These are the two main types of conflict, task and personality conflict. How can a manager effectively address each?
When individuals are put together in a team or project, they have to rely on one another in order to achieve their goal, meet deadlines, accomplish tasks, etc. In any case, when being faced with an important deliverable, these teams must coordinate assignments in order for everyone to successfully get their part done.
An accountant can’t do their job without accurate numbers, receipts, or records for their financial tasks. If an employee is constantly late with their reports, it affects the accountant’s ability to finish up and make their deadlines.
How would a manager resolve this conflict?
By communicating with their team, the importance of responsibility and accountability. A manager would take the time to define clear expectations for each individual on the team. When a manager takes the time to clarify what should be occurring in each role, everyone will be on the same page when deadlines approach. Communication is not the only huge factor. A manager should play into the strengths of each employee and provide immediate feedback for the roles and responsibilities of that staff member. Doing this allows everyone, including the employee that is late with their reports, to adhere to a clear process and efficiently complete their assigned tasks.
These conflicts are a bit more difficult to handle, because they deal with a person’s perception. We’re all so different; we’re not always going to click with everyone we meet, and it’s not always easy to work with someone whose personality is so different from our own.
Imagine it is your first day on the job and you and your coworker get off on the wrong foot. You asked for help in a customer inquiry, and they refused. You’d probably be thinking about how rude they are. Now imagine your supervisor has once again reminded you of the overload of tasks that need to be completed within tight deadlines. You absolutely cannot waste time, so you refuse to help the new coworker with their task. You know the justification behind your actions, but the coworker you cut off is sitting there thinking you’re being rude.
When these conflicts arise, managers should immediately take action, as this issue could altogether hinder your team’s productivity. Managers will do well to have frequent communications with their team members and constantly remind them that who we perceive someone to be is not always who they actually are. Encouraging staff to understand each other’s points of view will enable them to broaden their horizons. Ultimately, it will not let what they’ve seen define everything they think about the individual.
Conflict Resolution is Vital.
As we’ve mentioned, conflict, is inevitable. However, when addressing it calmly and intentionally, we can resolve it and even avoid future conflicts. Managers must communicate frequently with their teams. (possibly enforcing some ground rules everyone should adhere to) They also should actively listen to their staff, even when an employee needs to vent off some emotions. Managers must also take immediate action so that their team doesn’t crumble.
Each of us must remember, others are just as human as we are. We all make mistakes and misinterpret situations from time to time. If we all put in the effort to make the workplace environment healthy, we can resolve conflicts and help build each other into better people.