Blindsided by Workplace Conflict? Here’s What to Do
By Regina Schnell
When you think of workplace conflict, do you imagine the high drama of jilted office romances or promotion jealously? You may be surprised that those aren’t the top reasons for employee conflict. In fact, the most heated (and expensive) conflicts tend to arise from seemingly benign, everyday sources, like:
- An absence of or a disconnect with organization mission and values
- Undefined goals
- Unclear roles, responsibilities, and/or processes
- Undefined performance standards, and expectations
- Improper team management
- Differences in vision and values
- Lack of leadership knowledge, skills, or abilities
- Inefficient training and teambuilding activities
- Personality differences
- Difficult people
As a leader, you’re responsible for resolving these problems before they result in major losses of efficiency for your organization. But when it comes to solving employees conflict there isn’t always a one-size-fits-all solution. In most cases, the actions you take must be carefully tailored to the specific situation. Despite this, there are steps you can take to avoid making an existing problem worse.
What You Can Do About Employee Conflict
If you find yourself in a situation where people are clashing at work, follow these steps to bring down the “crescendo” of the situation:
1. Don’t ignore it. Avoid the mistake of sweeping conflict under the rug and hoping it will resolve itself. Be proactive when you see potential issues and address them before they spiral out of control.
2. Talk to each employee privately. Sometimes an employee needs to get something off his or her chest but feels uncomfortable talking about it in an open, group setting.
3. Develop a plan together. After meeting with each employee privately, discuss the issue together. Create a strategy that each employee can agree to move forward on.
4. Don’t use threats as a solution. Threatening an employee’s job can have the opposite effect on conflict. He or she may continue to feel resentment towards you or the other co-worker.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes bringing in a neutral third party can get everyone in sync. Workplace mediators deal with these challenges on a daily basis and can provide creative, mutually beneficial solutions that everyone can feel good about.
Workplace conflict isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can become a tremendous opportunity for you to open lines of communication and learn more about what your employees need to bring their best to work every day.
If you’re stumped by a workplace issue and need help determining what to do next, Workplace Symphonies can offer the assistance you need to reduce your risk and develop productive, more engaged employees. Apply for for a no fee, no obligation consultation to better understand what to do and how to resolve your most pressing employee challenges.
Leverage Strengths to Reduce Conflict
Have you ever noticed that most people spend too much time addresses weaknesses—their own or that of others? Interestingly, the negative focus on what weaknesses need to be fixed, rather than what strengths can be developed, tends to exacerbate workplace conflict.
If you’re interested in discovering how the natural strengths and abilities of you and your team can weave together and work in sync (rather than in conflict), let’s talk about bringing Strengths Finder training or coaching to your company.