Workplace conflict: some say it’s unavoidable. Whenever you get two or more people together, eventually there’s going to be an issue somewhere along the line. It’s one thing if you have a personal conflict with someone else, but professional conflicts — or personal ones that spill over onto time spent on the clock — can have a host of negative effects on any size organization.
A number of issues can occur when it comes to workplace conflict. Lowered employee morale, reduced efficiency and productivity, and even dangerous and potentially illegal situations can develop, both from hidden and overt conflict. This is, of course, why it’s practically a requirement to learn how to resolve issues constructively between workers, management, support staff, and anyone in between.
Communication is a Requirement
When it comes down to workplace conflict, in many instances these issues crop up from a lack of communication. Whether it’s management not providing enough transparency with policies and tasks or team members not sharing crucial information about a specific collaborative project, it’s this lack of communication that leads to a feeling of disconnect at work. In fact, the McKinsey Global Group found in a recent research study that there’s a direct correllation between productivity and communication, with workers that feel connected with one another are up to 25% more productive.
It may seem that there’s little to do in such a situation. Thankfully, however, good communication skills can indeed be taught. One of the most effective methods for showcasing the merits of bilateral communication, both among team members and between workers and management, is to purposely include team-building training that addresses the issue directly. We’re not talking the cliché of drum circles and trust falls, either; well-designed team building activities and events are adept at underlining the importance of interpersonal communication.
Confrontation, not Conflict
Taking steps to avoid workplace conflict or prevent it from happening in the first place are useful, but not in every context — sometimes even the best-laid policies might not prevent issues from arising. In times like these, it’s important to de-escalate any workplace conflict in such a way that there’s a positive resolution. This can be a challenge, but there are a number of excellent conflict resolution strategies that can be applied in the workplace. One of the most effective of these strategies is to have a mediated confrontation between the parties involved in a conflict in a controlled environment.
This may sound counter-intuitive but there has been extensive research done into how constructive confrontation methods have advantages in instances of workplace conflict, especially when overseen by management. Confrontations that are rational, non-accusatory, straightforward, and strive to remain respectful help to resolve conflicts decisively and in ways that ensure all parties involved in such a conflict leave feeling that the issues they had were addressed and that the turbulent emotions they were harboring were validated.
Conflict Resolution Isn’t Easy
Keeping your organization firing on all cylinders is certainly a challenging task. That being said, nobody wants to dread showing up to work every day. Workplace conflict can be highly disruptive and have long-term deleterious effects on workers and management alike, and the implications of physical altercations that stem from interpersonal conflicts at work are too onerous to even discuss.
That’s why it’s important to ensure that you can develop effective conflict resolution skills. Doing so will ensure that your workforce is provided a conflict-free workplace — or one where conflicts are dealt with in rational and supportive ways that end in positive outcomes. This will turn your workplace into one where your employees can feel engaged, connected, and most importantly, productive.