Nobody likes to deal with conflict, especially at the office.
If you fight with a friend, for example, you can take some time to cool off before reaching out to them.
However, most colleagues don’t have the option to take time off after a conflict, and have to work with the other party day in and day out.
Conflicts at the office can affect not only the people involved in them, but others, who have to witness the arguments, or feel the need to take sides.
Aside from the toxic office environment that a negative conflict can cause, it also affects productivity and can hurt the organisation’s bottom line.
Therefore, employers have to attempt to minimise conflict whenever they can; although that may not always be possible, these strategies can help in the most common situations to prevent or minimise conflict.
Train Managers to Handle Conflict
Managers often have an opportunity to step in before an issue gets out of control, and minimise its negative effects.
For this to work, C-level executives must train seniors to handle conflict when it erupts amongst their staff.
The training should teach managers hard and soft skills necessary to deal with people going through conflict, such as sensitivity, empathy, understanding, active listening, clear communication and negotiation.
Have an Informal Meeting First
The first step would involve the manager pulling the employees aside, and having one-on-one informal conversations with each of them to gain an understanding of what has taken place.
The managers must be sensitive to the staff’s feelings, actively listen to their side of the story, yet remain neutral and professional throughout the entire time.
After the discussions have been completed, the manager should identify whether a misunderstanding has taken place, which is often the case.
If that is so, all it should take is a meeting with the individuals involved to clear the air.
Utilise Formal Channels
If no fixable mistake or misunderstanding has transpired, the senior may need more formal channels to address the problem.
This is especially important if the conflict involves any type of alleged discrimination or harassment, or another type of liability to the company.
Turning to an experienced Human Resource (HR) member or a union representative may be advantageous to make sure the issue is handled properly.
A detailed record of everything that occurred, and actions taken to mediate the problem, must be kept.
Head of Training and Development