Conflict in the workplace, while unpleasant, is fairly common.
It is said that human resource managers can spend up to 60% of their time dealing with disputes at work.
Even if you are not managing an HR department, managing a team involves issues that often escalate and need to be resolved by upper management. Conflict is often very disruptive to performance, as co-workers cannot work together if they cannot get along.
A manager must deal with employee conflict, and we present tips for dealing with it effectively.
Accept It – Conflict is a part of life, and common in the workplace.
Some supervisors promote an office culture where conflict is simply not tolerated, and workers are told to go on with their working day.
This attitude is very damaging to employee morale, as issues never get resolved and simply accumulates, causing unproductivity. As a manager, it is important to understand that conflict is natural and must be dealt with effectively. Often, conflict is even beneficial, as it allows colleagues to express their grievances and work towards a common solution.
Give It Time – The most effective trick for dealing with conflict is allow the parties involved time to cool off.
Don’t try to deal with issues as your employees are in the heat of an argument, ask them to take a ten-minute break and then meet in your office to discuss. Sometimes giving a few minutes to re-evaluate the situation gives people time to recognise that they were wrong, and they can come into your office accepting their mistake or offering an apology to the other party without you having to intervene.
Be Neutral – If possible, try to stay neutral when trying to solve an office conflict.
Use neutral language, like “Why did you say this?” or “What did you imply with this action?” instead of blame, like “You were wrong to say…”
Don’t be judgmental and instruct your employees on what they should have said and done. Instead, ask them how they think their colleagues felt during the conflict, and what they could have said or done differently, in their own opinion.
Think Outside the Box – Sometimes the best strategy for ending office issues is an original and unique one.
For example, if two assistants are fighting with each other, buy them tickets to a comedy show where they can relax and have fun together.
If a team of salespeople are complaining that the others have the betters sales territory, causing competitiveness and conflict, team them up for a week to go to sales pitches together.
Many times, getting employees together out of the office for a fun event or a common project will allow them to see their colleagues in a new light, and the conflict may cease to exist.
While office conflict is often detrimental to the work environments, these are tips that managers can try to successfully deal with it.
Head of Training and Development