Conflict in the workplace can be difficult to avoid. Some would even say it’s inevitable. According to a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review, 89% of workers report having to deal with some degree of conflict in the workplace.
It’s not realistic to expect people to agree with each other 100% of the time. And spending hours each day in the same space is likely to lead to some version of conflict. However, the way organizations go about managing workplace conflict can make the difference between a peaceful resolution and a long-term problem.
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April is Workplace Conflict Awareness Month. In this article, we’ll cover what that means, why it’s important, and tips for managing conflict in the workplace.
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What is Workplace Conflict Awareness Month?
Workplace Conflict Awareness Month arrives in April each year. It was initiated to allow employers a chance to evaluate how their businesses can avoid preventable conflicts. It can also help companies create a more pleasant environment for workers and allow operations to run more smoothly.
Workplace Conflict Awareness Month is not to abolish conflict altogether. Rather, it encourages implementing healthy, effective ways to deal with issues that arise between team members. This approach contributes to many positives in the workplace. This includes a more harmonious environment, less escalation within potential conflicts, and a more productive workplace overall.
Though April is designated as the month to observe workplace conflict awareness, it’s also a smart business strategy to uphold year-round.
How to Manage Conflicts in the Workplace
There are more than a few ways to manage workplace conflict. Enlisting the help of expert consultants can assist you in finding what works best for your organization while re-establishing a workplace that runs cohesively. In the meantime, here are some other helpful tips for managing workplace conflict:
1 – Find the Root of the Issue
As no two individuals are the same, it can be difficult to find a one-size-fits-all solution for managing workplace conflict. However, it can be done effectively when an effort is put forth into finding the root of the issue from the start.
This is a more investigative approach than applying temporary, band-aid solutions to what could be a larger underlying problem. The root of the conflict may simply be that two individuals aren’t a good fit for each other, or it could be more serious and involve more specific issues.
Addressing the conflict from its origins makes it more likely that a permanent solution can be found and a more harmonious workplace can be re-established.
2 – Create an Environment of Trust
No one wants their personal issues exposed to the general public. For this reason, many employees will keep their troubles to themselves in order for their business to remain private. This only exacerbates frustration and discontentment, leading to lower morale, decreased work performance, and increased absences.
In order to create an environment of trust where employees feel comfortable airing their grievances, it helps to provide them with avenues to do so in private. Offering professional mediation services, designating a private area to discuss issues, and simply being available for employees to address their concerns are all ways of creating an environment of trust.
This allows employees to confidently arrive at a resolution and is a helpful step towards managing workplace conflict.
3 – Consider All Arguments Without Judgment
Being allowed to present individual sides of an argument without judgment is critical for managing workplace conflict. This is because the fear of being judged often prevents people from saying what’s actually on their minds, prolonging the issue rather than helping to resolve it.
When employees can be confident that their argument will be heard, they can present their side more authentically, increasing the odds of a resolution. Encouraging employees to talk about what’s bothering them with the assurance that they won’t be judged can be tricky, though it’s not impossible. Community-wide emails, access to on-site counseling, and regular meetings on the topic of workplace conflict can be helpful strategies to ensure employees that their workplace satisfaction is important.
4 – Implement a System
Most businesses have systems in place that allow their day-to-day processes to run more smoothly. These systems save time, money, and labor by automating key tasks that must be done for the business to thrive.
Without them, disorganization can run rampant, causing more headaches than necessary and costing the business in various ways. Managing workplace conflict can also be costly, time-consuming, and difficult; unless systems are implemented to achieve the opposite. Dealing with conflict on a case-by-case basis can prove inefficient at best.
Though all conflicts are unique and potentially require individual solutions, the way your business manages them can still be organized and streamlined.
A step-by-step plan for resolving conflict works to achieve efficiency while at the same time allowing workers the resolution they need individually. Oftentimes, employers rely on an employee handbook to distribute these protocols to ensure every employee is aware of the plan.
This will vary
based on your organization, but it’s an achievable goal that will serve your employees well.
5 – Encourage Feedback
Many businesses hold the feedback of their employees in high regard, and rightly so. Workers deal with the day-to-day, and it’s important to be aware of what allows them to do their jobs effectively. Encouraging feedback on things like operating systems, scheduling, and other crucial elements of your business can offer a helping hand where you weren’t aware you needed one.
The same can be said for managing workplace conflict. Feedback from employees can serve to shape your conflict management policies to be more effective. It can also help to establish an environment of trust and community and boost morale, as employees will feel more important and valuable.
Some ideas for encouraging feedback might be regular surveys, meetings, and stay interviews; whatever works best to allow you to gain the insight you need.
Managing workplace conflict doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Enlisting the help of experts is a great place to start; we’ll work with you to determine a strategy that benefits both your workers and your bottom line.
Our tips for managing workplace conflict will help set you on the right path toward a community of workers who feel valued and supported.
Prepare your business for what’s to come by following our guide:
Find the root of the issue
Create an environment of trust
Consider all arguments without judgment
Implement a system
If you’d like to speak to an HR representative about your business, contact us.