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Managing Conflicts in the Workplace: An Introduction

As an employer, managing workplace conflicts can help create a healthy environment for all. Understanding what these conflicts are and how best to avoid them can help your company increase productivity and foster positive communication. Learn more about workplace conflicts, their common causes, management’s role, how to manage them and frequently asked questions regarding workplace disagreements.

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What are workplace conflicts?

Also known as organizational conflicts, workplace conflicts are disputes between two parties in a workplace environment. These conflicts arise when two or more people or parties have a difference of opinions, interests or needs. To create a healthy, harmonious environment where your company can thrive, you need to defuse workplace conflicts as quickly as possible. This helps increase productivity and create a positive, collaborative workplace. When employees work together and acknowledge each other’s feelings and opinions, they have a better chance of avoiding discord.

Related:Best Practices for Managing Change in the Workplace

Common causes of workplace conflicts

It’s likely your company comprises a variety of personalities and viewpoints. This can lead to several workplace conflicts if these personalities clash or employees don’t meet one another’s opinions with grace. Here are some common causes of workplace conflicts:

  • Different cultures: When employees are too confrontational and don’t understand someone else’s cultural heritage, it can create a workplace conflict.
  • Different morals, values, opinions and beliefs: When employees are not respectful of their co-worker’s beliefs and values, conflict can arise.
  • Lack of interpersonal skills such as the ability to communicate: Miscommunication can lead to conflict when there’s a misinterpretation or lack of information between two parties.
  • Resource limitations: When companies lack resources, pressure can arise. This can lead to several conflicts within certain company teams as they battle for the use of the company’s assets.
  • Lack of sensitivity to race, gender, age and other areas: Ignorance can create a moral or legal issue in an organization. It can lead to hurt feelings among employers and lower morale in the workplace.
  • Fast-changing work environments: If employees can’t keep up with changes in the workplace, they can feel run down. This can lead to workplace conflict between managers and employers or between co-workers.
  • Poor behavior: When an employee exhibits passive-aggressive behavior, they’re more apt to get into an argument with a co-worker.

Management’s role in workplace conflict

A company’s management team plays a vital role in workplace conflict through its ability to act as a mediator. Management roles offer support and encourage positive communication between the dissenting parties. It’s also their job to recognize workplace tension and consider every viewpoint when coming to a resolution. Effective management can help defuse conflicts in the futureby creating a positive work environment in the present.

How to manage workplace conflict

When employers manage workplace conflict, employees are more motivated to perform their job well and free from stress. To effectivelymanage a dispute, it’s important to follow a certain set of steps that can make each participant feel valued. Here are the steps to take to manage workplace conflict:

1. Determine the cause of the conflict

When you encounter a workplace conflict, it’s important to determine its origin. Ask around for information, particularly from those who observed the conflict first-hand. When you determine the conflict’s cause, it’s important to not take sides while hearing everyone’s point of view.

2. Hear from both participants

Along with hearing from employees outside of the conflict, it’s also important to hear from those directly involved. Have each participant describe the conflict and detail what they would like to come from its resolution. While you listen to each participant, encourage them to focus on how they feel rather than placing blame on someone else.

3. Collaborate on a solution

After hearing about the conflict, brainstorm a solution. Direct the conversation to a resolution rather than back to the problem. Collaborate with all involved parties and create a positive environment conducive to a solution. When you involve the disagreeing individuals in the decision-making process, they feel valued and like their voice matters. This can help build a loyal and trustworthy employer-employee relationship.

4. Come to a mutual agreement

Summarize the potential solutions and reach a mutual agreement. Have involved parties agree upon a solution and the next steps. Communicate the solution with others, potentially one-by-one. The solution that the team reaches needs to be beneficial and provide guidelines and resources for future conflicts.

5. Implement the solution and close the conflict

Once you reach a resolution, ensure it’s properly executed. Have the participants apologize to each other and thank one another for reaching a conflict resolution. This fosters appreciation and understanding that can build a positive work relationship between bothparties.

Related:Cultivating Positive Workplace Behavior

FAQ about conflicts in the workplace

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding workplace conflicts:

What are some tips for avoiding conflicts in the workplace?

Employers need to encourage their employees to be accommodating toward other members of their company. It’s also important to maintain transparency that can foster good flowing communication between teams.

What are the main benefits of avoiding conflicts in the workplace?

Without workplace conflicts, employees can strengthen their bonds with other employees. This can help foster collaboration and reliance on others. Defusing workplace conflicts also helps motivate employees which can lead to the attainment of company goals.

What are the consequences of workplace conflicts?

Workplace conflicts can create disruptions in the workplace. This can affect productivity and the ability to meet company and team goals. If the conflict reaches a certain level, it may be grounds for termination.

When should you seek outside help for workplace conflicts?

You can seek outside help from arbitrators, mediators or attorneys regarding workplace conflicts. Here are some examples of when to seek outside help:

  • Legal issues
  • When the human resources department can’t handle the conflict
  • Recurring conflicts
  • Abuse or bullying
  • Toxic environments
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