Conflict in the workplace from time to time is inevitable. You may have your department running smoothly, but eventually personalities or ideas will clash causing conflict. One of the worst things you can do as a leader is ignore it and do nothing. This leaves room for issues to escalate and become even more problematic. Confronting the problem and dealing with it in an effective manner can help build a stronger culture and reduce future conflict.
One way to help prevent conflict and resolve some disagreement is to ensure that each person’s role is clearly defined. The overlapping of responsibilities or tasks can lead to argument. Two (or more) people are struggling for control and to achieve the same results, but they may not have the same approach. When delegating tasks, make sure each person knows exactly what they are to be doing and how they fit in to the overall project. Also, define what is and is not acceptable behavior and how the chain of command works.
Understand Differing Viewpoints and Managing Conflict
Not everyone approaches tasks in the same way or shares the same opinion. This can be a good thing because it provides more diversity in ideas and solution development, but it can also be a point of contention. As a leader, it is important to recognize these differing viewpoints and help others to understand them as well. Give each person a chance to explain their side of the story and what they feel the issue is. Avoid making decisions until you have heard what each person has to say.
Look for common ground that can tie the two sides together. There is often a way to compromise and come up with a solution that both people can agree upon. This does not mean giving in, but rather seeing things from a different perspective and devising a plan that allows both employees to work effectively toward a common goal. There is more than one right way to get to the end result, but both people might have to adjust the path they take.
Focus on the Issue at Hand
When tempers rise, sometimes the issue can get blown out of proportion. Old spats are brought up and the discussion loses focus and direction. Identify what the current problem is and how it can be resolved. What were the actions and behaviors that led to the conflict? Take things one step at a time. Sometimes employees may bring up non-relevant issues as way to try to defend themselves or deflect the problem. Keep things on track by focusing on the present and how to help both individuals be more successful.
Managing Conflict and Handling it as a Learning Opportunity
As you work through various conflicts, use what you have learned to implement changes across the department or company. Evaluate the underlying issue and how you can make improvements to mitigate future risk. Perhaps this means revising processes or procedures, redefining roles, clarifying instructions, or improving communication methods.
Leadership can be challenging and you may find yourself in tough situations, but knowing how to more effectively prevent and resolve conflict can allow you to maintain trust and respect. The team at JP Kantor Consulting can support you in improving your leadership and conflict resolution skills to create a more effective work environment. Contact us today to take advantage of our wide range of services and advance toward your professional goals.