Workplace conflict is inevitable – whether it occurs over something simple like your time clock software not working or something larger like harassment. These conflicts can either propel or disrupt your team or even your entire organization. The overall work environment canquickly become toxic if leaders allow issues to fester or fail to handle conflicts head-on.
However, managing conflict in the workplace can be a tricky thing, especially if you are not familiar with how clashes can impact an organization as a whole.
Your company’s culture is a mix of different viewpoints that can suffer irreparably if, while attempting to resolve workplace conflicts, you choose a solution that mostly benefits yourself or your goals.
Those in charge must act responsibly if they want to be respected. Leadership isn’t a popularity contest, but it is a role that involves developing and guiding employee relations as team members reach their full potential. Active listening, body language management, emotional intelligence – these are all crucial for leaders to recognize and intervene when workplace disputes threaten the team’s cohesion.
A majority of leaders would rather avoid any employee conflict all together to create the appearance that everything is okay. What they often don’t realize is that by avoiding conflict altogether, they are creating more internal destruction between employees. A good leader should have the conflict resolution skills to minimize or neutralize personal conflict rather than allowing it to run rampant.
The unfortunate reality is that while leaders attempt to keep the peace at work, they often create untrustworthy environments. This can happen if leadership is more concerned about being liked, not wanting to tarnish their personal reputation, or being in a situation that shows their lack of specific problem-solving skills.
Sitting back and letting problems resolve themselves is not always an option for those in a leadership position. For example, if you see that employees are annoyed with their current time clock software and the problem is only getting worse, you may need to step in to come up with a viable solution.
To help you create and sustain workplace happiness, employee engagement, and forward momentum, here are four ways to deal with personal conflict in the workplace.
Sitting back and letting problems resolve themselves is not always an option for those in a leadership position. If you see that employees are annoying with their current time clock software and the problem is only getting worse, you may need to step in to come up with a viable solution.
1. Know When to Intervene
Leaders who avoid conflict at all costs will find themselves regretting it down the road. Timing is everything when it comes to dealing with conflict. It can be challenging to determine when to intervene if there is hard evidence that an employee has a history of wrongdoing that is negatively impacting their work performance of others.
If your team members know that the conflict must be dealt with, but you are waiting to take action, then you can potentially lose the respect of your coworkers and those that you lead. See there’s an issue with employees not trusting your time clock software? Then start to look for a viable alternative to reduce workplace tensions.
Being a good leader is about taking action and confronting conflict at its root cause before it’s too late. If you wait too long, those around you will start to take action, and you will lose respect as a leader. If others see that you are not mature enough as a leader to act, this can put your reputation and job at risk.
How you deal with conflict can make or break you, but more than anything, it will reveal your leadership qualities and capabilities.
2. Understand Boundaries
Conflict can quickly become complicated and unmanageable if you don’t understand the boundaries of your employees. Everyone approaches conflict differently, so you must know the potential risks and rewards of conflict resolution within the limits of your employees.
As a leader you can help others understand when they cross the line, you can identify behavioral tendencies that often trigger individual attitudes, you can help provoke a mindset shift and even demonstrate a lack of self-awareness. This can all be accomplished through the help of coaching sessions where you can begin to set expectations for each of your employees and find common ground across different communication styles. Not only does this allow you to identify their conflict boundaries, but you can also establish guidelines that will help to prevent future conflict.
Leaders that actively engage in coaching and learn about their own team will find themselves encountering far less conflict.
3. Respect Differences
Rather than imposing your own views or influence, you should respect the unique differences of your team members and try to understand differing opinions. Doing so will allow you to understand better how to avoid personal conflict in the future. Conflict resolution is very rarely black and white. There are more grey areas these days as the workplace is becoming more culturally and generationally diverse than ever.
Respecting differences not only helps you to avoid conflicts, but it can also help you better understand how to manage dispute resolution in general.
As humans, we are most comfortable dealing with people that we trust and naturally gravitate towards. However, as leaders, we must see that each conflict you encounter represents an opportunity for professional and organizational development. Maybe a staff member you’ve dismissed as a difficult person is really misunderstood, or naturally quiet, and your more empathetic approach is what was missing to get them to open up.
Rather than hoping conflict will resolve itself, it’s crucial for leadership to step in and confront the tension head-on. By not taking action, the problem can grow and you can lose respect from your peers as well as your team members.
4. Confront Tension Head-On
Being a leader means that you often have to do things that others don’t like doing. Conflict resolution happens to be one of those things, but as leaders, there are times when the first step in the resolution process is to confront tension head-on. Don’t sit around, hoping the problem will solve itself, but instead use your leadership skills to address the conflict before your hand is forced.
Conflict can result in an emotional state of the mind that can make it challenging to manage. With that being said, it is crucial to confront conflict rather than allowing it to fester due to a lack of action. Adversity is tremendous, and you can see it all around you, but it is tiny when you compare it to everything else that surrounds you.
Our own perception is not always reality, and we don’t always confront the obvious situation because we let other’s points of view impact what we believe is true. Some of the most effective leaders have the wisdom and self-awareness to confront and diffuse any conflict. Conflict resolution is a lot, like any other form of adversity. You either act, or you don’t.
Conflict resolution is also about seeing opportunities that others often don’t. When dealing with conflict resolution from a place of opportunity, conflicts can lead to healthy growth for your business as well as professional growth for those involved. Good leaders know that authentic relationships with their employees, clients, and other parties don’t really begin until they experience a form of tension with them.
As a result, personal conflict should be embraced as well as dealt with. Not just to resolve a problem or embrace an opportunity, but as a moment, to learn more about your own leadership skills as you lead employees through conflicts.
Different types of conflict will have different solutions, but it’s critical for your team building and professional development as a leader to learn how to navigate these issues as they arise.