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9 Tips for Conflict Management at the Workplace

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9 Tips for Conflict Management at the Workplace

Organizational conflicts arise when there is a disharmony between employees and managers or between managers and outside forces. People vary in their ideology and perceptions; react to situations in different ways. This causes emotional clashes resulting in conflicts. Though it has some positive effects such as developing new ideas for resolution but more often it has a negative impact on the welfare of the organization.

In any organization, it is the managers who have the responsibility of handling conflicts and they need to find creative solutions for this.

Here are some factors that managers need to keep in mind for successfully resolving a conflict.

1. Do not avoid conflict: As mentioned in Steven Covey’s 7 habits, Habit 3: Put first things first. Thus effective managers should intervene whenever a conflict comes their way. An unresolved conflict may trigger the growth of another conflict.

2. Do not meet concerned people separately: This may lead to a polarizing effect among members; both parties stick to their own point of view without coming to a resolution. Thus a manager should use his persuasive skills and bring both parties to a common platform in order to resolve the issue.

3. Make both parties share their concerns: An effective manager with his leadership skills will engage in conversation with both parties, allow them to share their viewpoints and suggest specific actions, which are acceptable to all concerned. An effective manager needs to explore ways to arrive at a win-win situation for everyone.

4. Communicate the message properly to avoid any misunderstanding: Communication barriers amongst employees and employers create a wide gap in their understanding. If not monitored properly, this may lead to mistrust amongst the employees. Wrong information also evokes fear in the minds of employees. Thus it is important to communicate through proper channels in a clear and concise manner so as to minimize ambiguity.

5. Take a proactive stance when required: Managers must be able to identify any potential conflict likely to cause problems and take decisions to ensure that they are diffused right at the beginning. With sound reasoning ability, a manager should try to influence both the parties agree to his terms. Create an environment where in the employees have faith in the management and are reassured that their interests will be well-guarded.

6. Make sure that employees are aware of their own responsibility: An effective manager should delegate work amongst the various employees and make them aware of their own job responsibilities.

7. Build cordial relationships with employees: Foster a sense of belonging among members. It is important for a manager to keep the enthusiasm of employee high keeping at bay all negative thoughts.

8. Conduct meetings with all employees: Conducting meetings increases the transparency on organizational issues. An effective manager discusses plans for the upcoming period and shares a status report showing the accomplishments achieved so far. This gives a vivid picture to the employees.

9. Have a “suggestion box” for employees: It is one of the powerful means in which a manager can collect “honest” feedback from employees, especially in conflict situations.

Conflict and negotiation go hand in hand. With growing complexity in the business environment, small issues pertaining to employees often go unnoticed by the top management. If ignored for a long period, this may take the shape of conflict. Thus the onus is upon the manager to diffuse any potential conflict-causing situations right at the beginning.

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  • I encourage what I call the “quickly, quietly and closely” when I do training on conflict management.
    1. First, address conflicts as soon as they occur. Don’t let things stew and let people’s emotions build up to higher levels of anxiety.
    2. Resolve conflicts in private conversations. The hallway is not the place to diffuse workplace conflicts.
    3. Start “closely”–managers and other leaders should encourage people to try to calmly resolve differences on their own. This is the reason to provide conflict resolution training. People feel great if they can reach a solution without needing help every time. Training also lets employees understand when to ask for a mediator and how they can learn to mediate conflicts for others as well.