Conflict in the Workplace

Running a business in modern times is far more complex than it used to be. Add to that looming signs of a weaker economy and a growing divide in income groups and many organizations have a real challenge on their hands. In order to adapt, thoughtful managers have learned to recognize problems before they manifest.

Given the current situation, managers and HR executives should brace themselves for an increase in conflicts at work due to mounting anxiety and stress. This blog will attempt to educate you on the best ways to manage conflict between employees at your workplace.

Conflict in the WorkPlace

Conflict resolution is an invaluable skill from a management perspective. It may also become a skill that is increasingly in demand if things go badly for the global economy. While many disciplines, like finance or I.T., come with structured training, very little is ever offered in terms of educating people about conflict resolution. Being ill-equipped to handle conflict, the natural response is to ignore it and hope it goes away. The opposite is more frequently the result.

Ignoring conflict will only allow it to metastasize until it spills over into the larger workplace, hampering productivity, and harming the organization’s professional environment. According to a 2018 research, employee conflicts cost businesses $395 billion in wasted paid hours annually. Most of this expense could be avoided by proactively establishing conflict resolution protocols.

How HR Plays an Important Role

A conflict resolution policy that is both efficient and effective is crucial for any growing company. The need for conflict resolution is a frequent reality for workers and managers alike. Friction might arise at any point as a result of disagreements in a changing workplace. If not managed carefully, conflicts might escalate to an unhealthy level, such that where one party is ready to quit rather than continue working with the other party.

Related: Things to Know When Building Your Employee Handbook

Just as likely, conflict can devolve into ugly personal attacks, further disrupting the workplace. Once that occurs, it is both necessary and appropriate for HR managers to step in and resolve the conflict.

Solving Workplace Conflict

Conflict resolution doesn’t simply involve addressing individual conflicts. A large part of an HR executive’s job is to develop a comprehensive, proactive program to help deal with conflicts as they arise. Instead of relying on a single HR executive to manage conflict within the organization, a program ensures there is a structured path for all stakeholders to follow.

In that respect, even if your star negotiator decides to leave, you still have a system in place to preserve workplace peace and efficiency. The following tips can help you create an effective conflict resolution program:

Listen to Grievances

The first step in any conflict resolution program should be to gather all the facts. That means you have to spend time listening to both parties’ grievances. It is usually a good idea to meet with each stakeholder privately. The important thing is to convey two things simultaneously: first, that you care about and empathize with their situation; and second, that all parties should keep in mind the larger mission – the progress and preservation of the business.

Understand the Problem

The second step is to try to understand the problem based on the facts you’ve collected from your inquiry. In hearing grievances, it is acceptable to allow each individual party to express anger or frustration. Acknowledging these emotions and getting them out of the way is essential to encouraging a more rational discussion.

Related: Employee Motivation, Why It’s Important, and How You Can Boost It

As before, it’s always a good idea to meet with each party separately. This gives you a chance to ask very specific questions in order to ascertain the nature and extent of the conflict.

Ask for Input from Both Parties

Actively involve both parties when you’re trying to resolve the friction between them. Solicit their input by asking for frank suggestions on how the conflict in question can be resolved. Make sure they focus on themselves and their actions and responsibilities, not those of the other party. Fixating on the other party can sometimes be misconstrued as accusatory and can lead to a renewed flare-up of emotions.

Document Everything

Many times, this exercise may reveal an individual or department that suffers from communication problems, or who might not be utilizing or allocating resources adequately. For this reason, it’s critical to document all session and discussions – it can help prevent the conflict from occurring again and further aid decision-makers in improving the company as a whole

Remind your employees to keep the bigger picture in mind. While healthy competition can help employees and businesses grow, it’s a fine balance, and it requires constant diligent oversight. Understanding and resolving conflicts can help put healthy organizations on an even stronger footing.

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